If you have college-age children, there is an important conversation you need to have with them while they are home for winter break – getting a Health Care Surrogate Designation and Advance Directive prepared. Imagine your eighteen-year-old child in a coma due to COVID, and the doctors ask, “Who can make medical decisions for this patient?” By law, your child is an adult once they turn eighteen, and it is not automatic that parents can make medical decisions for their child if they are unable.
Health Care Directive
A Health Care Surrogate Designation and Advance Directive will spell out your college-age child’s wishes regarding medical decisions and nominate a health care surrogate. Their health care directive is only “active” if they are incapacitated and cannot communicate their own health care decisions, so be sure to explain that they are in control of medical decisions as long as they can communicate them.
If your child names a health care surrogate as part of their directive, it should include a HIPAA provision so that the surrogate can receive medical information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 protects individuals from sharing their health care information without consent. In some states, this authorization form is part of the health care directive, but not always.
We do not like to think of something happening to our children but these documents will be invaluable if medical decisions need to be made or a physician needs to share medical information during a health crisis. Without a properly drafted directive, a court order is the only way for a parent to make decisions for their adult children if they are unable. Having a health care plan in place is peace of mind in case the unthinkable happens.
I recommend parents contact an Estate Planning Attorney to put these (and any documents) in place, so they are done correctly. Health Care Directives need to be tailored to your individual needs.
Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law, serves clients in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Melbourne, and beyond with Estate Planning and Probate. Contact her today to schedule a free consultation. Visit her page on Facebook, or see what her clients are saying to learn more about Heidi.