How does a person obtain power of attorney and does this legal document includes access to ones medical records?

I live in Mississippi and my brother is currently incarcerated in a Louisiana prison. He has a mental condition and cannot always understand what’s happening with him medically.(i.e. He was taken to the hospital recently but he doesn’t know what was wrong. Also he has lost an extraordinarily amount of weight and he doesn’t know why.) I spoke with the social worker but she couldn’t give any information due to fear of violating HIPPA regs. I’m not sure what steps to take next. Do I obtain power of attorney and then I can have access to his records?

Asked on May 30, 2009 under Estate Planning, Mississippi

Answers:

M.H., Member, California Bar / M.H., Member, California Bar

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, that sounds like a sensible approach.  However, you will only be able to get a power of attorney at a time when your brother has the capacity to understand the powers he is conferring.  In other words, he has to be able to understand the powers he is giving to you.  Commonly such documents have to be notarized which is another red-tape item you would do well to prearrange with the prison officials.  You should be able to get a form power of attorney with a little legwork on the internet, but be sure it is valid in MS as they vary from state to state.  It also may have a witness requirement.  Once you get it, you will also need a HIPAA compliant release to actually get his medical records.  You might want to check with your local bar association to see if they have the forms or can point you in the right direction.  Good luck.


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