Parents May Now Delegate Care Authority of a Child
Many parents travel for work or otherwise send children to stay with a relative for temporary points in time, entrusting others with the care of their children. The concern has always been whether there is any authority to delegate parental decisions to such persons temporarily caring for the child. Until recently, there was no statutory authority that would permit another to step into the shoes of a parent for important care decisions.
Last week, a law permitting parents, or legal custodians, of a child to temporarily delegate care authority to another person became effective. Such delegation must be made in the form of a properly executed power of attorney, signed by both parents if they exercise joint custody, and may not exceed a period of 180 days. Service members on active duty have been exempted from the 180 day limit, but shall not be permitted to extend such time in excess of 30 days beyond the term of active duty service. The agent shall exercise parental or legal authority on a continuous basis for no less than 24 hours and without compensation for the intended duration of the power of attorney. The delegation may be revoked by any person who signed the power of attorney at any time.
The law specifically allows for the delegation of powers regarding the custody, care, and property of the child, but excludes the power to consent to marriage or adoption of the child, the performance or inducement of an abortion on or for the child, or the termination of parental rights to the child. Further, such delegation of does not modify the legal rights, obligations, or authority of a parent or legal custodian.
Another important exception to the law was implemented to prevent parents from delegating authority for the primary purpose of enrolling a child in a school outside of the child’s jurisdiction. The law specifically states that a power of attorney shall be invalid “if executed for the primary purpose of enrolling the child in a school for the sole purpose of participating in the academic or interscholastic athletics programs provided by that school or for any other unlawful purpose.” A violation of this section is punishable under the law.
As Kit Kat: Arctic Fox’s Journey
Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, was there really an Arctic fox who journeyed from Norway to Canada?
Kit Kat: Yes, amazingly, it did. The female fox was a coastal or blue fox. She had a tracking collar on, and that is how the journey was recorded. This represents a trip of more than 2,175 miles in only 76 days. She began on the Svalbard Archipelago of Norway in 2018, and was tracked to a remote island in northern Nunavut, Canada. This event was reported in Polar Research, and published by the Norwegian Polar Institute during the last week of June 2019.
How was such a trip possible? Well, this particular breed of fox is very hearty, but it is still an amazing story. It was only possible during winter, when the Arctic ice freezes over and the 2 continents are connected. At first, researchers were skeptical. How could this be? Eva Fuglei, of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said, “We didn’t think it was true. Could the fox have been found dead, the collar taken off and now aboard a boat?” That possibility was ruled out when they realized it would not be possible for a boat to travel through the ice that far north at that time of year. When tracking data was downloaded from the collar, it appears the fox left the Svalbard Archipelago on March 26, 2018 and reached Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada 2.5 months later. In one day, she logged in about 96 miles! Ms. Fuglei commented, “This is, to our knowledge, the fastest movement rate ever recorded for this species.”
Why would the fox have set out on such a journey? Researchers suspect it was motivated by lack of food in her original habitat or some threat that existed there. The fox’s migration also points to the importance of sea ice for some species. With global warming, the way of life for some species may be significantly altered. (Megan Specia, “An Arctic Fox’s Epic Journey: Norway to Canada in 76 days,” The New York Times, July 2, 2019)
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Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro is a Shareholder of Hook Law practicing in the areas of elder law, special needs planning, estate and trust administration, estate planning, asset protection planning, financial planning, guardianships, and conservatorships. Ms. Laymon-Pecoraro also works with plaintiffs who have been injured, and their trusted advisors, to advise on public benefits issues and developing trusts to protect settlements and verdicts. To date, she has completed over 250 personal-injury related trusts, specifically Settlement Protection Trusts and Special Needs Trusts, including those with Medicare Set-Asides.
Ms. Laymon-Pecoraro is certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). Approved by the American Bar Association and authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the CELA certification is the legal industry’s “gold standard” for elder law and special needs practitioners. There are only about 500 CELA-certified attorneys nationwide.
Prior to joining the firm in 2012, Ms. Laymon-Pecoraro handled estate planning documents for members of the United States Department of the Army and has been involved in the legal representation of several large corporations.
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