Your children over the age of 18 may or may not be on their own. It doesn’t matter because once they are over eighteen, their records, medical and educational, are protected. I highly recommend you have a medical power of attorney along with a living will to assist you with a hospital should important decisions need to be made. Although it’s not pleasant to think about, there can be difficulties that are unpredictable. One highly publicized example is the Terri Schiavo case. For those of you too young to know, Terri Schiavo was a young woman who was in a vegetative state and on life support for many years. After attempting rehabilitation for eight years, her husband said she would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state and requested discontinuance of life support. Her parents stepped in and said that she would want to be kept on life support and obtained an injunction from the court to prevent withdrawal of life support. Litigation ensued involving very complicated ethical, moral and legal issues. The battle continued for many years.
Terri had collapsed in cardiac arrest in February 1990. She was only 26 years old. State and federal legislative intervention and litigation affected a seven year delay. Support groups and protestors actively petitioned outside the courts. Needless to say, it was a nightmare for both Terri’s husband and her parents. Many articles, books, and papers have been written on the incident. An internet search will lead you to numerous sites which provide numerous sources.
In our twenties, most of us do not consider a will, living will, medical power of attorney or anything of the sort to be on our list of things to do. The example of Terri Schiavo is a sharp reminder that we do not know what will happen to us on any given day. I for one do not want to be without medical authority for my adult children. Should they transfer that authority to a spouse in the future, I will honor that decision. Should they get divorced, I want the authority transferred back to me. Not because they have anything of value (they don’t), but because I value them too much not to be able to adhere to their wishes should the unthinkable happen. For all of your family members, you should be prepared. Call me for an appointment.
(Editor’s Note: Drue Morgan-Birch has her own law office and graduated from the UofA College of Law in December, 1982. She can be reached at 620-9367, or firstname.lastname@example.org.)