‘Tis the season for graduations!  In fact, we are celebrating the graduation of our founder and managing attorney’s daughter from high school.  We know these young adults are getting antsy!  They are ready and want to leave for college. Yesterday.  In fact, a few of your college age kids may already have the car packed.  But there is likely something they didn’t pack, and it is important.  Actually it is critical.  A Power of Attorney.  In Georgia, its referred to as an Advance Directive for Health Care.

I know what you are saying, “Those are for adults.”   Guess what?  Your child is an adult.  And will be from this point forward.

Because they are an adult, the days of you being able to call up doctors, pharmacists, health clinics on campus, emergency room nurses and doctors, insurance companies, etc. are over unless you get lucky.  Or unless your adult child has a power of attorney in place allowing you to do these things for them.  Which you and I both know they will still want you to do things for them.

So how will a power of attorney work in this situation?  A power of attorney allows you (MOM, DAD OR BOTH) to act on behalf of your child, have access to health information, and advocate for them like you have their whole life.   They, as the adult, give you this “power.”  A power you no longer have because they turned 18 years old.  That is the law even if you think otherwise because you are their parent and/or footing the bill or you have them on YOUR insurance.

If your child is 18 years or older OR is about to turn 18 years old, consider getting an advance directive for health care in place so you can keep supporting their dreams.

Why can’t you help them once they turn 18 years old?  At 18 years old they have health care privacy.  So their health information becomes THEIRS to share and no longer is accessible by you.  This may have started happening to a small degree when they were younger and your pediatrician or the nurse would ask you step out briefly so they could ask questions of your child regarding certain areas of health care.  Even if it hasn’t, it happens instantly on that 18th birthday: health care privacy.  In addition, because they are now adults, they are their sole health care decision maker.  And even if you are mom or dad, you don’t get to override their decision any longer or even make a decision about their health care without their permission.

We understand that in reality, you may still be doing many of these things we discuss.  Our concern is when you run into the “stranger” doctor or nurse or health care professional.  The one who is there helping your son or daughter in their next chapter, perhaps at college.  They do not know you and they do not know whether you have permission to help and make decisions.  THIS is where the advance directive for health care will help you help them.

Call us today if your son or daughter is 18 or soon to be 18 years old.  We can talk with them about getting a health care power of attorney, an advance directive for health care in Georgia, to let them have the knowledge that you can help when and if they need.