Do Grandparents Need a Power of Attorney to Take Grandchildren to the Doctor?

By Stephanie Dube Dwilson

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Today, grandparents are often deeply involved in taking care of their grandchildren. But when a child needs medical attention while under his grandparents' care, what authority do they have to make medical decisions for him? Although grandparents might not need a medical power of attorney to take their grandchildren to see their regular doctor, the general rule is that grandparents must have a power of attorney to obtain medical treatment for them.

Power of Attorney Over a Minor

A Power of Attorney Over a Minor for Medical Care gives a person the right to act on behalf of a minor child who is not yet 18 years old or otherwise emancipated. When grandparents have a POA for a child, they can consent to medical, psychological or dental treatment for the child. However, a POA can sometimes be limited to a specific purpose, such as authorizing one type of medical procedure.

Obtaining a POA

Some medical practices and hospitals have medical POA forms for minors available, but grandparents can also use an online legal document provider to prepare the appropriate form for their state. A parent can specify on the POA the exact decision-making power the parent grants to the grandparents.

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Signatures Needed

State laws vary regarding the execution of a medical POA for a minor, but in many states, the parents and grandparents must sign the POA in front of a witness or notary. If both parents are alive and either married or have joint custody, the signatures of both are typically necessary on the POA. If one parent does not have custodial rights over the child or has terminated his parental rights, that parent's signature is not needed.

Ending a POA

Parents can revoke a medical POA at any time because parental authority always supersedes a POA. The length of time a POA remains valid can vary, but it is often valid for up to six months. Parents can issue a POA for a shorter amount of time, if they choose. Additionally, a POA automatically ends with a court order or when the child stops living with the grandparents.

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Temporary Medical Power of Attorney for Child

References

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Medical Power of Attorney for Minor

If your child suffers from a debilitating medical condition, such as a seizure disorder, you would be wise to entrust certain medical decisions to someone who can make those decisions in case you are not available during an emergency. In many cases, doctors will not administer some treatments without consent of a parent or a legal guardian or of a legally designated agent. If you wish to authorize another individual to make health care decisions for your child, you can draw up a medical power of attorney. The documents must be signed by one or both parents, witnessed and furnished to the agent named in the document.

If My Father Is Sick, Whom Should I Make the Power of Attorney?

When a parent gets sick, he may no longer be able to care for himself and may need someone to help him make decisions. If your father cannot make his own health care decisions or manage his own finances anymore, someone else can do these things for him by acting as his agent through a power of attorney. However, if your father doesn’t already have a power of attorney in place, it may be too late to sign one when he gets sick.

Medical Power of Attorney for Children

A medical power of attorney for a child, or child medical consent, is a legal form that is used when the parents are unable to consent to a child's medical treatment for a period of time. This can occur when the child is away at camp or under the care of a relative for a period of time. This form allows the caregiver to make medical care decisions that the parents would normally make.

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