Medical Directives for Adults and Childrenby Patricia R Voss on 02/28/19
An unexpected medical emergency can happen to anyone at any anytime. Whether due to an illness or as a result of an unexpected circumstance, situations occur every day which render persons of all ages incapacitated and unable to make decisions for their own health care. Advance Directives is a group of documents that allow you to give someone the legal authority to make medical decisions for you, access your medical records, and carry out your instructions with regard to the types of medical treatment acceptable to you in an end of life care situation.
The documents that makeup these Directives consist of a:
1) “Designation of Health Care Surrogate” ( see Florida Statutes for a suggested form ), the document which allow the person you designated to make medical decisions for you and can include HIPPAA release language unless a free-standing HIPPAA release document is also being executed (HIPPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act which is a federal law that protects the privacy of a person’s medical records);
2) A “Living Will” ( see Florida Statutes for a suggested form ), the document that includes types of medical treatment you would or would not want in the event of you terminal illness, end-stage condition or being in a persistent vegetative state condition. Since tragedy does not discriminate and there is rarely advance warning about when a person will become incapacitated, obtaining these Directives as soon as possible is critical since without them, then you have no control over who will be the person tasked with making life and death decision on your behalf during a time of incapacity or near death. This could potentially mean that someone you don’t trust, or even a guardian appointed by the Court, could be appointed to make decisions on your behalf.
In addition, anyone who is the parent or guardian of a minor child, should execute a separate Designation of Health Care Surrogate for a Minor (see Florida Statutes for a suggested form) in order to authorize another adult to make medical decisions on behalf of your child in the event you (and anyone else with legal authority over your minor child) should become unable to make such decisions. Keep in mind that once your child becomes a legal adult, your adult child should also execute his or her own Medical Powers of Attorney in order to grant you or whoever they wish, the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event of any incapacity.
Although you will always be your child’s parent, once a child becomes legally emancipated or attains the age of majority, you no longer have the same legal rights to make medical decisions simply by virtue of the fact that you are the parent. Therefore, whether an adult child goes off to college, takes off for a gap year, or continues to reside at home, adult children also need Advance Medical Directives in order for another person, including a parent, to make health care decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity.