Medical Power of Attorney for Minor

By Tom Streissguth

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.

Basic Format

The medical power of attorney must identify the grantors -- the parent(s) who are authorizing another party (known as the agent) to make medical decisions. It must identify the agent and the name of the child or children whom it benefits. It should also have information about the child's regular physician, as well as medical data such as blood type, immunization history, a list of prescribed medications, and information on any allergies, disabilities and/or illnesses. You may also include specific permission for certain medical procedures, such as blood transfusions, emergency surgeries and life support, or give permission for temporary confinement in the case of mental illness, at the discretion of the agent. The document must have an effective date and be dated, signed and notarized.

Liability

A medical power of attorney for your child should have language releasing any providers from liability for accepting direction from the agent, as provided for in the document. This important clause protects licensed doctors, nurses and paramedics from lawsuits arising from their treatment as authorized by your agent.

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Guardianship and Consent

If the grantor is a legal guardian, some states require notification of the court that approved the guardianship. In Michigan, for example, state law requires notification within seven days of the power of attorney's effective date. If the grantor is a parent, and the other parent objects to the power of attorney, then the parent objecting must file a motion for a hearing in family court. The judge will hear testimony and consider evidence, then issue an order either revoking or confirming the power of attorney.

Revocation

While the power of attorney should carry an expiration date, the laws of the individual states may limit the valid period. (Alaska, for example, limits health care powers of attorney for a minor to a year). Of course, as the parent or legal guardian, you have the right to revoke a medical power of attorney for your child at any time. You may do so by drawing up a single-page form declaring that the power of attorney you previously signed is no longer in effect and providing a copy of the revocation to your agent. .

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Power of Attorney for Minor Children

References

Resources

Related articles

How to Get Power of Attorney Over a Parent

A power of attorney is used to empower someone, known as the attorney-in-fact or agent, to make medical decisions, perform legal acts or engage in financial transactions on behalf of another, known as the principal. Since the principal cannot authorize power of attorney if he is "incompetent" -- unconscious, mentally incompetent or unable to communicate -- it is best to obtain power of attorney over an aging parent while he is still healthy. Your parent may revoke power of attorney at any time, as long as he is competent.

North Carolina State Statutes Regulating Power of Attorney for Health Care

A power of attorney for health care can give you piece of mind that appropriate medical and mental health decisions will be made for you if you're unable to make these decisions yourself. In North Carolina, the person appointed to act in your place can be granted as broad or limited decision-making authority as you desire. The process for executing a POA is governed by state law, which also describes the minimum qualifications necessary for those appointed to serve on your behalf.

Legal Guardianship for an Incompetent Parent

A guardian is a party who undertakes legal responsibility and authority for the care of someone else, known as a ward. An adult can become a ward only if he is declared legally incompetent. If your parent is a victim of a disability that prevents him from meeting his basic needs, you may petition a court to appoint a guardian.

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