Mississippi’s Supreme court decision reinforces the importance of having a Durable Power of Attorney. A Florida Durable Power of Attorney can be one the most important Florida Estate Planning Documents, a Power of Attorney allows a person you “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” — to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
In this case, Mrs. Goodlett admitted her mother, to a nursing home. During the mothers stay at the nursing home, Mrs. Goodlett developed two decubitus ulcers (bed sores), which required surgery. Mrs. Goodlett told the nursing home that she was going to sue the nursing home for negligence and sent them a medical authorization with 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 Mrs. Bernadette did not have a Power of Attorney over her mother, only Mrs. Goodlett could authorize the release of the medical records.
Mrs. Bernadette sued the nursing home on behalf of her mother for negligence.
The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision 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 the medical records were requested, the lawsuit would have been able to proceed.
A Power of Attorney is an easy document to put into place and can make things much easier for your family if you are incapacitated.