Over the holidays, I received a phone call from a close friend. His son, already on psychological medication, had ingested a good deal of illicit street drugs, suffered a psychotic break, and landed in the emergency room, facing the prospect of being committed to an institution.
Like any parent, my friend had a litany of questions for the doctors, and wanted to participate in his son’s care. The boy, however, is over the age of 18, and is therefore no longer a minor. The doctors would not provide my client with any information, nor discuss with my client treatment options. The boy was in no condition to grant consent for the doctors to speak with my friend, and the only viable option was to ask a Court for an emergent order of temporary guardianship – on Christmas – and I was out of town. Faced with the time, expense and logistics of such a petition, my friend decided to acquiesce to his hope that the hospital doctors would do what was best for his son, and see what would happen over the next several days.
Thankfully, everything worked out- but what a nightmare. The fact of the matter is that things happen- and you don’t want to find yourself in this kind of position.
For this reason, we strongly recommend that you speak with your adult children about executing a health care proxy in your favor, to allow you to receive medical information and direct treatment in the event of a circumstance such as this. You may also discuss having your child execute a durable power of attorney in your favor so that you can receive copies of medical records or take care of your child’s finances in the event of an extended incapacity.
It’s hard enough convincing clients that they need to take care of their own planning documents- and this is a much more difficult conversation to have. But finding yourself in a circumstance like the one described above- it’s unthinkable.
If you have questions about these procedures, please call us. We are glad to offer a free consultation to discuss these matters with you and your children.