Why Your 18+ Child Needs a Power of Attorney for Health Care

Mrs. Applebee, the 6th grade teacher, poses the following problem to one of her math classes: "A wealthy man dies and leaves ten million dollars. One-fifth is to go to his wife, one-fifth is to go to his son, one-sixth to his butler, and the rest to charity. Now, what does each get?"

After a very long silence in the classroom, little Morris raises his hand. "Yes, Morris," the teachers says calling on him.

With complete sincerity in his voice, little Morris answers, "A good lawyer."


Guest contributor Marcia A. Franklin, Greenswag & Associates, P.C.

As your child heads off to college or out into the real world, in the event of a medical emergency, will you be able to participate in health care decisions or have access to important medical information?

In order to be able to assist your child under these circumstances, it is important to complete an Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care that includes a right of access to medical information and records. With this document, at any time your adult child (over 18 years of age) is unable to consent to medical treatment or even give permission to allow you access to his or her medical information and/or records, you will be able to act on his or her behalf with full access to this information.

Without a valid Power of Attorney for Healthcare, doctors and other health care providers may be unable or unwilling to disclose vital information about your adult child and you may not be able to participate in decisions regarding that child's treatment if he or she is unable to make or communicate those decisions.

The Power of Attorney for Healthcare form is relatively simple but includes several elections that the Principal (your child) must make in giving direction to the person named as Agent, including: when it becomes effective, what kind of care should be provided in an end of life situation and whether the Principal wants to include any other specific limits on the Agent's authority.

While the form can be obtained online, it is generally better to sit down with your adult child and an attorney familiar with the process so that your child understands all of the options and elections to be made and the execution of the document is properly handled.

We thank Marcia Franklin who is an attorney practicing in Northfield, Illinois. Her practice concentrates on estate planning and representing closely held businesses and their owners in a variety of commercial areas. mfranklin@greenswaglaw.com