If someone other than a child’s parent needs to make healthcare decisions on their behalf, a power of attorney may be required. This could be useful if your minor child is being cared for by a relative or someone else who is not their parent.
The Agent’s Powers
The person who is given the power of attorney is referred to as the agent. The agent can have very broad powers or only specifically granted powers.
Healthcare powers of attorney give an agent the power to consult with medical professionals and make medical decisions. Durable powers of attorney can give the agent access to financial accounts and information.
If your child is in the care of a non-parent—such as a grandparent, stepparent, or family friend—a healthcare power of attorney can give that person the power to consult with doctors or other medical professionals about the child’s treatment and condition. This could be helpful if the child spends a significant amount of time in the care of a non-parent.
Parents are given broad legal powers of their minor children. You won’t need a power of attorney to make medical treatment decisions for your child. Once your child turns 18, they will be responsible for their own decisions, and you may need a power of attorney to consult with medical staff about your child’s healthcare.
If you disagree with the agent on an issue, you can revoke their powers. However, you should still only give a power of attorney to someone you trust, and you should limit their powers only those that are absolutely necessary. Consult an attorney to make sure your power of attorney is properly drafted and executed.
A power of attorney is not the same as a legal guardianship. It doesn’t give the agent the authority to make any decision they want on your child’s behalf.
You can also grant a power of attorney for a limited time. For example, if your minor child is spending their summer vacation with a relative, you could grant a power of attorney only for this time period.
Consult an estate planning attorney if you need to give a non-parent the power to manage healthcare issues on behalf of your minor child.
King Law handles estate planning matters in North and South Carolina, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Follow us on Facebook for more information and updates on legal issues.