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July 12, 2022

One issue that can sometimes fall through the cracks of estate planning for minor children is medical authorization. Parents are not always with their young children and that’s normal. Preparing a medical authorization form for your minor children ahead of time is one way of ensuring that adult individuals who take care of your children in informal settings, like grandparents or friends’ parents, have the authority to make medical decisions on your children’s behalf. Places like schools and camps usually have their own forms.

Without medical authorization, adults taking care of your minor children, however well-intentioned, will not have actual authority to make medical decisions. Moreover, under privacy laws and rules like the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA), medical providers would not be allowed to give those adults access to the children’s medical records so that they could make an informed decision about medical treatment.

A medical authorization form can alleviate these problems. The medical authorization form should state, in sum and substance, that you are granting authorization and consent for the named “Supervising Adult(s)” to administer general first aid treatment for any minor injuries or illnesses experienced by the minor. And if the injury or illness is life-threatening or requires emergency treatment, you authorize the Supervising Adult(s) to summon any and all professional emergency personnel to treat the minor child, and to issue consent for any medical diagnosis, treatment, or hospital care deemed advisable by the medical provider.

You also may wish to add a provision that you will “hold harmless” the Supervising Adult(s), meaning you won’t sue them, if something goes wrong, as long as they acted using their best efforts and did not engage in gross negligence (i.e., acting so recklessly that they had no regard for the safety of others) or intentional wrongdoing.

Parents of minor children in Georgia also should be aware that under current Georgia law, minors may give consent to healthcare services related to pregnancy, including counseling, pregnancy tests, and labor and delivery services. (As of this writing, Georgia law as to termination of a pregnancy is currently in flux as a result of court decisions and legislation.)

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Avoid being a “helicopter parent.” Certainly, make sure your children are not in actual danger, like when they’re swimming or crossing the street. And always know generally where they are or will be. But some freedom for older kids is vital. It helps them gain independence as well as social and decision-making skills.