Health Care Directives

Kris L. Maser, shareholder and Elder Law Department chair for Maser Amundson, P.A.

It’s that time of year again: children graduating from high school – when they prepare to spread their wings and fly off to college.  For the first time the kids won’t be at home and underfoot.  Additionally, after they turn 18 they are legally adults.  We, as parents, won’t have input anymore in what they eat, where they go or who they hang with.  More importantly, we parents won’t have input into their health care.  We will have no right to access health records and no right to make substitute decisions for the kids regarding their health care issues.

The most timely graduation present or 18th birthday present for your child (and for you as parents) is to send them to their first meeting with an attorney to discuss issues surrounding their health.  All people over the age of 18 should have a Health Care Directive.  A Health Care Directive allows your child to nominate someone (hopefully his/her parents) to make medical decisions for them in the event of the child’s incapacity.

Knowing my boys were on their way to college and also aware that the brain is not fully developed until the kids are between 25 and 30 years old, I had nightmares of my children drinking, driving  and generally doing what other 18 year old kids do the first year away from home.  I’d lay awake at night waiting for that phone call telling me there had been an accident and the kids were hurt.  I wanted to be able to continue to care for them and be available to help with medical decision making for the kids should something untoward happen.   Once my sons turned 18, I no longer had that authority as a parent.  So my gift to each of my sons was to have them meet with an attorney in our office (alone) to discuss and hopefully complete their Health Care Directives.  This was one of their first adult decisions.  And although they both gave me a hard time about having to meet formally with a lawyer, they did, in fact, agree to do so.

The Health Care Directive is an advance directive where a capacitated adult nominates another person(s) to make medical and other health related decisions for the Principal (in this case one of my sons) in the event they became incapacitated and could not make  decisions independently.  If someone has not given this decision making authority to another (his/her proxy), there is no one who legally can.  The result is the need to establish a guardianship through a court proceeding.  This process is costly and time consuming.  It involves a court hearing and a judicial determination of incapacity.  The Judge will appoint a guardian to make medical decisions who may or may not be the person who should be making the decisions on behalf of your child.

At 18 children never think they could become incapacitated.  The world is their oyster, until a car, diving, skiing, hockey, biking, etc. accident happens that changes their reality.

An Invitation to all of our Professional Senior Worker Colleagues

This is an invitation to all of our professional senior worker colleagues:

Registration is now open for Maser Amundson, P.A.’s, Spring Conference. Our topic this year is: “Identifying Capacity, Addressing Legal Issues, Learning Practical Solutions”.

For Registration, click here!

The ability to define, identify and recognize capacity issues plus maintain awareness of the red flags of undue influence are essential for any individual working with the aging population. But, without the right knowledge or tools, addressing these issues can become a daunting and overwhelming task. The 2012 conference will address these issues through a practical, problem solving approach with lectures and a panel discussion of real life scenarios.

Date: Thursday, June 14, 2012

Time: 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM; followed by lunch

Venue: Landmark Room, MN Masonic Home, 11501 Masonic Home Drive
Bloomington MN 55437

Cost: $79 includes lunch, all materials & CEUs

Faculty, CEUs, Objectives & Agenda: See the registration website

We are seeking your input regarding any challenging situations/scenarios you have faced in the past where capacity may have been an issue or where safeguards may or may not have been in place. We ask that you submit a description of the situation to us for consideration and use as one of the real life scenarios we will address during the conference. All personal information will be redacted to protect client privacy.

Contact/Questions/Submissions: Joyce Konczyk, Life Care Coordinator and Community Liaison, 952.925.4147, ext 134, or

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