As you are preparing to bring your student to college, there’s some estate planning you will want to include as part of this preparation. Your child becomes a legal adult once they turn 18, and in most circumstances, you are no longer authorized to obtain information regarding their medical care or finances. Young adults should consider signing a Power of Attorney and Advance Directive for Health Care to prepare for the unlikely event of the type of emergency where it would be beneficial to give parents the authority to act on their behalf.
A Durable Power of Attorney gives the Agent (often a parent for college-aged young adults) authority to access bank accounts and act for them when it comes to legal matters. Your child has proven that they are responsible and independent, but it is wise to plan for what may happen in case of an emergency. A Power of Attorney would allow parents to do things for their child such as write checks, pay bills, and manage those types of affairs for their child.
One of the primary purposes of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) is to protect the privacy of medical records and restrict access to personal medical information. An Advance Directive for Health Care is used to appoint a Health Care Representative and grant that person access to medical records as well as authority to make medical decisions for someone should they become unable to communicate with their medical providers. Without this document, medical professionals are not authorized to discuss medical care with the parents of the student being treated. Also, if the student has a medical emergency, parents may have to petition a court to be granted authority to make decisions for their child if they have not been appointed as Health Care Representative. A lot of stress may be avoided by taking the time to execute an Advance Directive before it would be needed.
Set some time aside as part of your back-to-school plan to talk to your adult child about the importance of these documents and how they can take a little bit of stress off of their plate as they start college.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC