Health Care Proxies for minor children

As thoughts of the long winter leave us and as the weather outside turns nice, some may begin to think about travel. Whether it is day trips, going away over a long weekend, or full blown vacations, one thing people rarely think of is health care decision-making for minor children. But, maybe you should.

A few years ago, my wife and I were away for a short vacation. Our children – our daughter, 7, and our son, 3 – were staying with my parents. During their stay, our daughter had a very minor health scare and my parents took her to the ER. The admissions nurse took down my parents’ information, but because they were the grandparents, the admissions nurse questioned what authority they had to make health care decisions.

That’s a typical scenario – and maybe a scary one. Especially if the parents are away and not able to be reached quickly. Or, if the health scare was something worse. Lucky for us, the health scare was minor AND my wife and I had signed a Health Care Proxy appointing my parents as health care decisions makers while we were on vacation. So, when the admissions nurse asked what authority my parents had to make health care decisions for their granddaughter, my parents were able to show her the Health Care Proxy we had signed and there were no further issues.

Granted, we were in constant communication with my parents and were rushing back home to be there. But, what if we could not be there quickly? What if the doctor’s office could not reach us? What if my parents did not have the Health Care Proxy form? Likely, the hospital would have still cared for our daughter, but there would have been a lot of uncertainty, a lot of stress, and a lot of anxiety as we made our way to the hospital.

The point is that it was a simple document that saved hours of aggravation. When we arrived at the hospital, our daughter was being cared for, my parents were fully in charge, but we were able to take over now that we were there.

That’s the kind of Protection, Security, and Peace of Mind proper estate planning gives you.

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About Jeffrey A. Asher

Jeffrey A. Asher is admitted to practice in NY and CT. Mr. Asher is a member of the New York State Bar Association, where he serves on the Executive Committee of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section, the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Law Section, is co-chair of the Legislation Committee of the NYSBA Elder Law and Special Needs Section, is co-chair of the Committee on Elderly and Disabled of the NYSBA Trusts and Estates Law Section, and is Chair of the Elder Law Section of the New York County Lawyers’ Association. Mr. Asher recently appeared in the HBO Documentary “Bobby Fischer Against the World: Fight for the Fischer Estate.” Mr. Asher also is a legal commentator on Trusts and Estates and Elder Law matters for Court TV, TruTV, and CNN Headline News.

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