One distressed call can change your life. “Mr. Smith, this is your son’s friend Joe. Your son was in a car accident and they rushed him to the hospital.” Alternatively, what if the call is from the Health Sciences Center at your child’s college and they tell you that your child has COVID-19 and is being brought to the hospital for treatment.
As a parent, sending your child to college is a huge milestone. You are probably most concerned about preparing your child to take on the world of adult life outside of the home. Part of that preparation should be making sure your child understands the importance of protecting himself.
If you get that call from your child’s friend or your child’s college Health Science Center, what can you do? Your immediate first step would be to call the hospital, or if it is close enough, to go to the hospital. Once you give your information and advise the hospital that you are the parent, the hospital might inform you that giving you any kind of medical information is illegal because your child is 18 years old and you do not have the legal authority to access any of their medical information or to make any medical decisions for them.
Christine and I experienced this when our college freshman son was rushed to an emergency room in Rochester, New York (an eight hour drive from our home) last February for tonsillitis with a peritonsillar abscess. A blizzard was expected in Rochester that day so all flights from Long Island to Rochester were cancelled. Christine and I felt helpless. Of course, as parents we wanted to talk to the ER doctors. However, when we contacted the hospital, they refused to speak to us. We quickly faxed over to the hospital a copy of our son’s Health Care Proxy naming my wife as his agent and we were then allowed to speak with a doctor to explore options for our son’s care.
A Health Care Proxy can give parents access to a child’s medical records and can allow parents to make medical decisions for their child if their child becomes incapable of doing so on their own. A Power of Attorney is equally useful and can be used to communicate with your child’s college and banks, as well as deal with government agencies, if necessary. Essentially, a Power of Attorney can be used for tasks that you used to perform for your child when he was a minor but are now legally out of your reach.
It is not pleasant to think about these circumstances, but every family should be protected. Having a discussion with your child and urging him or her to get a Health Care Proxy and a Power of Attorney is a mature conversation that should take place. Our 20-year-old son and 19-year-old son named us as agents under their Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies. Fortunately, they did so we now have peace of mind that we can get control over a bad situation that our sons may find themselves in simply by presenting the right legal documents.
Craig A. Andreoli & Christine Andreoli
How To Get Started On Protecting Your Child
You can contact The Law Office of Craig A. Andreoli, P.C. to schedule a complimentary initial consultation for your adult child. Once the documents are drafted and finalized, parents and other specified agents can represent and make decisions for a child of 18 years or older. If you have any questions or concerns, please call (631)-686-6500.
Disclaimer: Hiring an attorney is an important decision which should not be based solely on advertising. The information you obtain is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.