Should You Obtain a Medical Power of Attorney for Your Child’s Health Care Decisions?

As a minor, your child does not have the authority to make their own medical or financial decisions. You act as their representative in these matters until they turn 18. In the state of Texas, once your child hits that age, you no longer have the legal authority to make those decisions for them. But if they are in a severe accident, you still want to be able to obtain information about their condition and consent to medical treatments on their behalf. We will walk you through the most important considerations for receiving powers of attorney (POAs) for your adult child.

Why You Should Request Powers of Attorney (POAs) For Your Adult Child

While you cannot make medical decisions for your adult child, you should obtain power of attorney privileges for yourself. In the unfortunate case that they get into an accident and are left unconscious or incapacitated, you want to be able to make the right choice for them.

However, because of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), health care professionals are legally obligated to withhold medical information from you. Unless your child signs a HIPAA authorization naming you as a recipient, you will not be able to find out any information about their condition.

According to the U.S. Department of Health Services, personal representatives have the authority “to make health care decisions for a patient.” Under HIPAA, obtaining medical POAs can make you, your spouse, or other guardians personal representatives.

If your child is married, their spouse will likely wish to obtain powers of attorney to make decisions regarding their health. But in the case that they are separated, unmarried, or divorced, they may want you to be their representative.

What Happens if Your Child Does Not Have Anyone as a Power of Attorney?

If your child becomes incapacitated without anyone acting as a power of attorney, Texas law dictates that another adult or group of adults can make medical decisions for them. In order of priority, that adult or group can be:

  • A spouse
  • An adult child (if they are legally allowed to be the sole decision-maker)
  • All of a patient’s adult children
  • A patient’s parents

The reality is that family situations can often be tricky. For instance, if your child does not want an estranged spouse or parent to be involved in their medical situation, they must make their desire legally binding and get help from a licensed attorney.

Become Your Child’s Power of Attorney

When becoming a POA for your child, you want to prepare your documents correctly so that every applicable institution, such as a hospital or clinic, will accept them.

Your situation may even require special considerations. If your child lives in a different state, for example, they will need to take additional steps to ensure that you have POA in their region.

Otherwise, you may not be able to obtain medical information or consent to treatment for your child.

This takes the knowledge and experience of a skilled attorney. Do not gamble with your child’s life or health. Schedule a consultation with Whitney L. Thompson, Esq. at (979) 318-5079.