Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
What is Guardianship?
Legal Documents Every18 Year Old Needs to Ensure Their Parents Can Intervene Medically on Their Behalf
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Source: Reprinted from the May 2017 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,


Issue: # 98

 May 2017

Happy Memorial Day!

As we pause this weekend to remember those who have lost their lives serving our nation, don't forget to say "thanks" to the veterans and active duty service members that you know who are still alive and well.  I want to send a special shout out to my father who is a Korean War Veteran.

Now, more than ever, veterans need our support in accessing and securing funding for ongoing medical care, psychological care, and long-term care.  I encourage you to take time today to get educated on the issues pertaining to our veterans and become an advocate for those who are in need.

In office news, I've been meeting with many parents of teenagers  about to turn 18 . Parents are coming to the realization that at age 18 their children (with or without special needs) will now be considered legal adults.

This is not just in the physical sense of the word, but legally, too. If your 18 year old is injured or falls into some sort of trouble, HIPAA laws will likely prevent you from getting involved on their behalf. 

I've even seen a case where a young adult needed emergency surgery and the hospital would not communicate with his parents until they produced proper legal documentation or obtained guardianship of him.

In order to have peace of mind, if you are a parent of a child turning or already over 18, call our office to discuss the pro's and con's of:

obtaining guardianship of your child;


the creation of legal documents such as a Health Care Power of Attorney, an Advance Directive (Living Will), and a stand-alone HIPAA authorization,

so you can immediately get involved if trouble strikes.

Have a great week,
What is Guardianship?

During the first 17 years of your child's life, you are probably managing a lot for them: money, school, doctor's visits, therapists, caregivers, transportation, and housing, among other things.  When your child is 17 years old and younger, you automatically have the legal right to make all major decisions for them.  But, once a child turns 18 years old, the law gives them the right to make these decisions for themselves.

Maybe your child won't be ready to manage these things right when they turn 18. Maybe they never will.

Sometimes doctors and schools, consult with parents who are not guardians and may take their consent in certain situations. However, they are not obligated to do so and may refuse because of concern for their own liability.

Without being the guardian, you cannot legally make decisions for your child with special needs.  

Guardianship is a legal proceeding which gives you responsibility for making decisions on behalf of your child with special needs who is unable to make or communicate responsible decisions about their own life.

While guardianship provides important protection, it is also very restrictive. A guardianship can remove your child's right to make a contract, drive, marry or even vote.

Guardianship is a serious responsibility and one that should be approached with the same seriousness and attention which you apply to your own life. As a guardian you have overall responsibility for your child's welfare.

For help in deciding whether or not to obtain guardianship of your child with special needs, please call to set up an appointment.

Legal Documents Every 18 Year Old Needs to Ensure Their  Parents Can Intervene Medically on Their Behalf

It's the end of the school year and graduations are in full swing.  As your "baby" steps into adulthood, you might not realize that you will soon lose the ability to help your child or make healthcare decisions (even though you may still be paying the bill!) because of privacy laws.

For that reason, parents of children turning 18, who have capacity,  are urged to prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney, an Advance Directive (Living Will) and a HIPAA Authorization to ensure they are consulted and actively involved in their child's care should they become ill, incapacitated or seriously injured in an accident.

Under current HIPAA laws, parents may be barred from making necessary medical and life-saving decisions on their child's behalf without such documentation in place. Most parents assume they can make medical decisions until their child is legally married, but that is just not the case.  The law can prevent parents from getting involved in the care of a person age 18 or older without explicit permission through legal documentation.

Because of this, parents of children turning 18, who have the capacity to do so, should have their child create the following documents as soon as possible:                                                                        
  1. Health Care Power of Attorney- A Health Care Power of Attorney allows a young adult to appoint someone they trust (the parent) to be their health care agent should they wind up in a coma or become otherwise incapacitated;
  2. Advance Directive (Living Will) - An Advance Directive (Living Will) specifies the type of life support the child would want should they become incapacitated or left in a permanent vegetative state.
  3. HIPAA Authorization- A HIPAA Authorization allows the new adult to give permission to someone (the parent) to access their healthcare information including medical records, information from doctors and insurance providers.
Without such directives in place, parents could be helpless spectators to their child's care should they become ill, disabled or otherwise unable to speak for themselves.

If you need help putting such documents in place for your child, please call to schedule an appointment.
Free Download of Sheri Abrams' Book "Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits"

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Our Office Location

The law firm of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law is located at: 

service source building


10467 White Granite Drive
Suite 306
Oakton, VA 22124
(571) 328-5795


This is in the "ServiceSource" building and there is plenty of free and accessible parking.

Our office is also accessible by public transportation.


If you know of someone who could use our legal services, please forward to him/her this e-mail newsletter or give him/her our telephone number: (571) 328-5795.


We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Wills and Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives (Living Wills), Guardianship, Conservatorship, Disability Planning and Student Loan Discharge. 
If you, or someone you know, is involved with an educational event or support group that would benefit from a presentation on any of the areas of law for which we provide legal services, please call us at (571) 328-5795.