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

Last updated on: July 18, 2023

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.

When it comes to safeguarding your child’s well-being, having a medical power of attorney is crucial. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our experienced Houston estate planning attorneys may be able to help parents obtain a medical power of attorney, providing you with the legal authority to access critical medical information and make informed decisions on behalf of your adult child. Ensure peace of mind by contacting us at (281) 214-0173 today.

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.

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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.

Medical Decision Making for Incapacitated Children (in Order of Priority) Description
Spouse A spouse can make medical decisions for the incapacitated child.
Adult Child An adult child can be the sole decision-maker if they are legally allowed.
All Adult Children If there are multiple adult children, they can collectively make medical decisions.
Parents The parents of the incapacitated child can make medical decisions.

Temporary Medical Power of Attorney

A temporary medical power of attorney also referred to as a temporary healthcare power of attorney, empowers another individual (the agent) to make medical decisions on behalf of the person creating the power of attorney (the principal) in instances where the principal is unable to do so due to physical or mental incapacity. This legal document is utilized when the principal experiences temporary difficulties in communication or decision-making, such as under anesthesia or during a temporary loss of consciousness. The agent’s authority comes into effect when the principal becomes incapable and ceases when the principal regains the ability to make decisions. The principal can grant the agent the power to select among available medical treatments, authorize or refuse treatment in the event of a terminal illness. The temporary medical power of attorney can be prepared before any illness or medical emergency arises, enabling the designated person to make decisions for a specific duration of time or in specific situations. Any competent adult has the right to establish a temporary medical power of attorney.

It’s important to consult with a Houston estate planning attorney familiar with Texas law to ensure that the temporary medical power of attorney is drafted and executed correctly, and that it meets your specific needs and circumstances. Contact us at The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson to receive guidance and assistance in preparing your temporary medical power of 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. Contact and schedule a consultation with Whitney L. Thompson, Esq. at (281) 214-0173.

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