A letter of authorization is a document written by one person to authorize someone else to perform a particular task on his or her behalf. This is essentially a legal document in which a person grants permission to someone else to do something that he or she may not otherwise legally be allowed to do. For example, the medical records of an individual are generally private and medical professionals may not legally release those records to others. A letter of authorization written by a patient to his or her doctor, granting the doctor permission to send those records to someone else would then allow the doctor to do so.
While there are many different reasons why such a document might be needed or created, some of the most common uses of this type of letter are for medical records, legal representation, or to allow someone else to act on a person’s behalf. If someone is involved in a lawsuit based on injuries sustained in a car accident, for example, then he or she may need to write to a hospital or doctor’s office permitting them to release medical records to a lawyer. Someone transferring between doctors or hospitals may also be asked for such a letter prior to records being transferred.
Though not always necessary, a letter of authorization might also be used by a lawyer to document that he or she is authorized to act as legal representation for a person. This allows the lawyer to act as though he or she were the client. One can also be required in situations in which a person is acting on someone else’s behalf to receive financial compensation. Someone receiving insurance money, for example, could authorize another person to accept that money for him or her.
A letter of authorization should be written in clear and concise language, regardless of its purpose. The exact nature of the duties and responsibilities being granted in the document should be explained, without room for interpretation. Someone who is authorizing the release of certain medical records, for example in an insurance claim, should indicate exactly which records are to be released and to whom they are to be given. This prevents the authorization from being abused or used as a sort of “carte blanche” to take greater action than was granted.