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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
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
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...
Law Offices of John L. Laster
John Laster is a lawyer licensed to practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He limits his practice to wealth transfer planning, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care decision-making issues, estate administration and related tax, elder law and disability concerns. Listed in The Best Lawyers...