FAQs About Powers of Attorney and Directives

Incapacity Can Happen At Any Age…Be Prepared

by Rania Combs

I recently received a heart-wrenching note from a parent, whose 22 year-old son had been involved in an accident. He was knocked unconscious with multiple dislocations and was in a coma for more than two weeks.

During his hospital stay and treatment, he developed pneumonia and a staph infection which elevated his temperature and blood pressure. Complications from this development caused him to have a stroke and seizures.

He is currently incapacitated, lives at home with his parents, and requires long term rehabilitation. His parents are trying to facilitate his medical care and handle his financial affairs, including applying for social security benefits and Medicaid. But because he doesn’t have a Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and HIPAA authorization, they are encountering obstacles.

They contacted me to inquire about whether it was possible for them to obtain these documents. Unfortunately, their son doesn’t appear to have the requisite capacity to sign the documents that will allow them to step in and handle his affairs.

According to a recent study, less than one third of all Americans have documents that will protect them in the event of their incapacity. Most people believe that disability is something that happens only to older people. That we have time. That our families will be able to take care of everything if the need arise.

But without the requisite documents, a legal proceeding may be necessary to grant your loved ones the authority to act on your behalf. And this will take more time and cost more money than if you had a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a HIPAA authorization in place.

Incapacity is not just something that happens to older people. It can happen at any age. Are you prepared?

Photo courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock,

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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