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Lack of Power of Attorney Stops Daughter's Nursing Home Suit
- January 22nd, 2008
A decision by Mississippi's highest court illustrates the importance of having a power of attorney. One of the most important estate planning documents, a power of attorney allows a person you appoint -- your "attorney-in-fact" -- to make financial decisions for you should you be unable to make decisions yourself because of incapacity.
Bernadette Goodlett admitted her mother, Sarah, to a nursing home. During her stay at the nursing home, Mrs. Goodlett developed two decubitus ulcers (bed sores), which required surgery. Bernadette informed the nursing home that she was planning to sue it for negligence and sent the nursing home a medical authorization giving it permission to release Mrs. Goodlett's medical records. Due to complications from a stroke, Mrs. Goodlett was unable to sign her own name to the medical authorization. The nursing home refused to release the medical records, claiming that because Bernadette did not have a power of attorney over her mother, only Mrs. Goodlett could authorize the release of the medical records.
Bernadette sued the nursing home on behalf of her mother for negligence. The nursing home argued the lawsuit should be dismissed because Bernadette did not file a form required by state law. Bernadette argued she did not need to file the form because she had not received her mother's medical records. The trial court found that Bernadette had substantially complied with the law, and allowed the lawsuit to continue.
The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Bernadette did not have power of attorney for her mother, she was not entitled to her mother's medical records. Therefore, Bernadette could not file suit without including the required form.
Had Mrs. Goodlett given Bernadette a power of attorney before Bernadette requested the medical records, the lawsuit would have been able to proceed. It is not difficult to put a power of attorney in place, and it can make things much easier for your family if you are incapacitated.
For more information about a power of attorney, click here.
To find an elder law attorney who can assist you in drafting a power of attorney, click here.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC
Jean Galloway Ball is certified in Elder Law by the National Elder Law Foundation. She is a 1977 honors graduate of the National Law Center, George Washington University, and she did her undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1971. She is admitted to practice in Vir...
Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC
Judith Mtinick is well known for acting as a guardian, conservator, trustee or agent on behalf of clients or by court appointment. This experience gives her a wide perspective and extensive practical knowledge that she uses when advising clients in drafting their planning documents. Her experience, as a court appointed...
Ron M. Landsman, P.A.
Ron M. Landsman has been practicing elder law since 1983, before it was known as elder law, originally with Landsman and Laster, Washington, D.C., then Landsman, Eakes and Laster, also in Arlington, VA, and since 1990 in his own practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has been among the most active members of the...