Blogs :: Why Do I Need a Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA?

Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) documents may be necessary in certain situations. Preparing these documents before these situations arise can assist family members in times of need.

Take the situation where two people are purchasing a house together and one of them will be traveling out of the area on the day of closing. A Power of Attorney can be completed ahead of time giving the other person the ability to sign on the traveler’s behalf. With a Power of Attorney on file, closing on the house could proceed as planned.

A critical situation happened to an elder client. She had been involved in a car accident which sent her to the hospital. Although she was conscious, she was dazed, scared and unable to think clearly to make decisions about her own care. The car accident happened during the COVID pandemic. The elder's daughter, who usually escorted her mother to medical appointments, was unable to enter the hospital because of the lock-down. In order to communicate with the ER staff and make medical decisions on behalf of her mother, the daughter was able to text her mother's Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA documents to the hospital from her car in the hospital's parking lot. While this was an extreme situation because of the pandemic, it holds true in everyday life. Medical Powers of Attorney and HIPAA documents are needed for the release of medical records and for the ability for someone other than the patient to make medical decisions on behalf of that patient.

Additionally, the elder's car was undrivable and it was sent to the tow yard. My client's daughter had requested that the vehicle be brought to a particular body shop; however, the tow truck driver selected by the police on the scene was only authorized by his company to bring the car to their tow yard. In order to get the vehicle transferred to the body shop of choice, the company needed either communication from the owner of the vehicle or a Power of Attorney signed by my client (the owner) and hand-delivered to the tow yard. Had my client not previously prepared a general Power of Attorney nor was she able to sign one at that time due to her condition in the hospital after the accident, the car would have had to remain in the impound lot, possibly incurring additional storage fees, until my client was able to handle the situation herself.

These documents are also helpful for families with children traveling back and forth to college. Should the young adult be involved in an accident, having Medical Powers of Attorney and HIPAA documents would allow the parents to get information about their child's condition and make any necessary medical decisions. These documents can either be prepared as stand-alone documents or as part of a Wills package.

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