By: Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire

[email protected]

While you are busy enjoying the milestones of senior year and helping your child figure out what comes next, whether that is college, trade school, a job or a gap year, you should consider having your 18-year-old child sign a medical power of attorney.

When your child turns 18, even though you may still think of them as a child (and they likely still act like one) under the law they are now an adult. As an adult your child is now allowed to vote, serve in the miliary, serve on a jury, sign a contract, and even get married. The sudden change overnight from child to adult also comes with some other issues that are not often discussed.

When your child turns 18 your legal right to access their protected records – medical, financial, and academic – comes to an abrupt halt. You no longer have the authority to make health care decisions for your child even if they are on your health insurance and you pay the bill. If your child has an accident or illness and is temporarily disabled, you may need court approval to act on their behalf or even to get information about their medical status.

A medical power of attorney authorizes an agent, typically a parent, to make medical decisions on their adult child’s behalf and gives the agent access to medical records. The power of attorney may be effective from the moment your child signs it or you can specify that it be activated by a specific event – for instance, if your child becomes incapacitated or incompetent and cannot make healthcare decisions for themselves.

While preparing for the next chapter, don’t forget the legal implications of your child becoming an adult. Protect your child in the case of an emergency with a medical power of attorney.

The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur.  To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit or contact Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected].


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