If your child is involved in a situation that requires medical attention, who will make medical decisions for your child? Who will provide consent for medical treatment? If you are available, then obviously you will provide instructions and consent. But what if you are not available?
Often times parents are out of town without the kids for vacation, work, military deployment, or multiple other reasons. The summer time often brings up several scenarios, such as parents’ vacation to get away, or maybe the kids go to spend an extended time with their grandparents over the summer. In any of these situations, if your child were to need some form of medical treatment, you may not be available to provide instructions or consent. So, what should you do?
Limited Power of Attorney
A limited power of attorney can be used to designate an agent, perhaps a grandparent that the children will be with, with the temporary authority to make decisions in your absence. Of course, if you are available you do not give up any decision making authority. Also, the power may be revoked by you at any time.
Choosing the Agent
When choosing the agent, you must choose a mentally competent adult. This person does not have to be a family member, but it should be someone who you trust with making medical decisions for your child and someone who will be available to make those decisions in your absence. In the example of a child spending a few weeks with their grandparents, the grandparents would likely be the individuals you would want to designate.
Duration of the Power of Attorney
The power of attorney can, and should, state when the Agent’s authority begins and when it ends. This can begin immediately, or upon a certain date or condition happening. The same applies for the ending date.
Authority Granted by the Power of Attorney
You can make the authority granted to the Agent as broad or as limited as you would like. It is entirely up to you to determine what authority you believe is appropriate under the circumstances.
Using the Power of Attorney
You will need to provide the Agent with copies of the Power of Attorney, or at a minimum let the Agent know where the original or copies are located. The Agent will need a copy to provide to health care providers and/or schools in the event they find themselves in a position to have to make decisions.
This type of planning for your child is often overlooked and really not thought about. However, it is very important to have this document in place in the event you are not available to make necessary decisions to ensure your child receives the best care in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible.
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