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WHY SHOULD A YOUNG ADULT HAVE A HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY?
Young adults often feel that they are “invincible”. This feeling gives them the courage to take on challenges and adventures that a more experienced adult may find daunting. The sense of invincibility can cause young people to not consider giving a parent or other older adult power of attorney to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to do so. There are a number of reasons why a young adult should have a health care power of attorney.
- They Really Are Not Invincible. We would love it if bad things never happened to our adult children. Unfortunately, there are times when they are injured or become ill. If the injury or illness is so severe that they are not able to make informed medical decisions they will need someone to make those decisions on their behalf. The primary purpose of a power of attorney for health care is to allow an adult child to designate someone to make medical decisions for him or her in the event, and at such time as he or she is unable to do so. If there is no power of attorney for health care certain treatments may be denied or delayed.
- Organ Donation. A health care power of attorney allows the person giving the power of attorney (the “principal”) the opportunity to state his or her preferences in regard to organ donation including whether any, and which organs or tissues should be donated. Without a health care power of attorney we may not know our children’s position on organ donation.
- Medical Information. A health care power of attorney authorizes the person to whom power of attorney is given (the “agent”) access to medical records. Young adults sometimes need guidance in important areas such as health care. Full access to medical information, that might otherwise be denied because of HIPPA, equips the agent to offer such guidance.
- End of Life. A health care power of attorney allows the principal the opportunity to state his or her preferences in regard to life sustaining treatments in the event of a terminal situation. It is unlikely that a young adult would have formally expressed those preferences in any other document. Under such dire circumstances the family may have some comfort knowing that they were following the wishes of the person in the terminal condition.
Prepared by: David A. Semmelman, JD, CPA