In a perfect world, every adult would have a will, advance care directive and financial and healthcare powers of attorney designated and updated on an annual basis. Unfortunately, more than half of adults in America haven’t gotten around to it. This can result in considerable stress and confusion, when a loved one becomes incapacitated due to illness, accidents or old age. In this article, we answer some of the more advanced questions we’ve had when it comes to caring for elderly loved ones.
Do Adult Children Have any Right to Information About Their Parents’ Medical Condition?
Unless their parent’s physician or other healthcare provider deems it necessary, or the parents have named the adult child as their personal representative for healthcare matters, they do not have any right to their parents’ personal medical information. The same goes for financial information. Unless the parents have named the adult child their power of attorney for financial matters, banks and other financial institutions will not provide any information. If you are concerned about these matters, ensure that your parents have designated a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.
My mother had a stroke and is unable to make decisions for herself. What are my options?
If your mother has not designated a healthcare power of attorney or created an advance directive, your next best option is to petition the courts for guardianship over your mother. You will need to prove to the court that your mother lacks the capacity to make decisions on her own and that you are qualified to do so. If guardianship is granted, you will have the same powers over your mother’s healthcare (and likely, finances) as you would over a minor child. This is also a good time to ensure that you have designated a healthcare power of attorney and created an advance directive to ensure your needs are taken care of when the time comes.
Does my father’s power of attorney have the right to keep his medical information from the rest of the family?
No family is perfect. There are always certain dynamics that contribute to strife, especially when an elderly parent is concerned. If your father’s power of attorney is keeping you out of the loop on healthcare matters, the truth is, they have every right to. They alone have the authority to determine who has access to your father’s medical records. If you believe your father’s power of attorney is not acting in your father’s best interests, you may file a petition with the court to have that power of attorney removed.
The laws regarding healthcare powers of attorney and other estate-planning matters differ from state-to-state. If you have questions about these issues, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.
ElderLawAnswers. (Accessed November 29, 2019) https://www.elderlawanswers.com/questions-and-answers/Health%20Care%20Decisions
A Place for Mom. “10 Essential Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents” (Accessed November 29, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/essential-questions-for-aging-parents/
AARP. “Haven’t Done A Will Yet?” (Accessed November 29, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/half-of-adults-do-not-have-wills.html