Power of Attorney: What you need to know to enjoy your time away

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year: the school year! The kids are back in the swing of things and, as a result, you’re ready to start planning a kids-free getaway. But before you send the children off for a fun-filled vacation at Grandma’s or leave them with a family friend while you enjoy a relaxing getaway, there is one essential document that should be executed.

Picture this: The kids are off to Grandma’s, and you and your spouse are on your way to Paris to visit the Louvre and kiss under the Eiffel Tower. As soon as your plane touches down, you see an email from Grandma. Your son fell off his bike, broke his arm and needs surgery. The doctor has stabilized him, but has refused to perform the surgery without proper consent as Grandma has not been authorized to consent to a surgery on your behalf.

What happens next is a stressful back-and-forth between you and the hospital, trying to convince them to perform the surgery while jumping through all of its hoops. This hassle, frustration and angst could all be avoided with one simple document: a power of attorney.

Parents and legal guardians are generally allowed to make decisions on behalf of their minor children; and that power may be delegated to another individual for a time period of up to six months (or longer if the parent or guardian is deployed with the armed forces) by executing a power of attorney. A power of attorney grants your child’s babysitter or caretaker the authority to make emergency medical decisions on behalf of your child while you are unavailable to make those decisions.

Typically, powers of attorney are granted to caretakers to make decisions regarding emergency medical care. The power of attorney may be limited to only those services to which you wish to grant the babysitter or caretaker authority. They may also be limited in time, so they extend only so long as you are away.

This document, if properly drafted and executed, is accepted by hospitals and other health care providers as your permission to allow the babysitter or caretaker to make treatment decisions for your child in your absence, and each should be tailored to meet the needs of your family.

Parentsshould also consider executing a Will or Parental Appointment of Guardian for Minor, authorizing someone to act on their behalf if they become unable to care for their children. These documents are typically built into a more complete estate plan, which enables you to ensure that your children are properly cared for and that there is no gap in their care should anything happen to you and the children’s other parent or guardian. A well-developed estate plan is essential for any family with children.

At Smith Haughey, we have a team of attorneys who can assist you in creating the proper tools to adequately protect your family. We can tailor an estate plan, including powers of attorney, to fit your family’s needs. If you would like more information or would like to schedule an appointment, contact one of our estate planning attorneys today.