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Estate Planning

All Generations Need HCPOAs

By November 11, 2015No Comments

As Judy Janetski’s article highlights, those of us in our middle years are part of the “squeeze” generation.

We continue “raising” “our young adult children. At the same time, we help, if not directly care for, our parents as they (and we) deal with their aging.

And so we worry. About both generations. Seemingly all the time. What if my daughter is hospitalized at college? What if my mother breaks a hip and needs surgery? Or worse, what if my father has a stroke, and can’t communicate with us or his doctors?

The “squeeze” wakes us up at night. We sigh. What can we do?

One critical step we can take is to make sure that our adult children and our parents sign health care powers of attorney (HCPOAs).

An HCPOA gives a third person the authority to act for the signer on medical matters if the signer cannot act for himself. For young adults, the “attorney” commonly is a parent; for older adults, a spouse or adult child.

If circumstances permit, a medical provider in possession of an HCPOA will usually contact the named “attorney” for input and directions, if the signer cannot communicate himself.

An HCPOA also ensures that the “attorney” can obtain information about a loved one’s medical condition.

Given the HIPAA laws, absent a written designation, medical providers may not disclose a patient’s medical information to third-parties.

An HCPOA also allows the signer to designate his treatment wishes in advance. Resuscitation? Feeding tube? Life support? The HCPOA can disclose preferences regarding these and other issues.

An HCPOA, of course, is worthless if it isn’t disclosed to the right professionals. So, once signed, copies should be given to family members, health care providers, and estate planning attorneys.

Once this essential protection is in place, everyone involved can rest easier. And we can go back to worrying about “normal” things.

Like whether our children’s college grades will land them a job or whether their first apartment will ever see a broom.

Like whether mom really went to the eye doctor or dad is eating that third cheeseburger (with extra cheese).

And hopefully, we can worry a bit about ourselves. And whether WE have our own HCPOAs. How can we care for our loved ones if we don’t take care of ourselves?

Your FOS attorney stands ready to help you lessen the mid-generation “squeeze” by drafting appropriate HCPOAs for you and your loved ones.