That long-awaited, bittersweet moment has finally arrived: your children are headed off to college. They are now adults—and likely far from home, where they must learn to fend for themselves. But if they run into a problem, let’s say a health emergency, the hospital might not take your phone call.
As reported in businessinsavannah.com’s article, “College-bound children need critical financial, health documents,”there are certain steps you can take so that you will be able to speak with doctors at a hospital and college officials on his or her behalf. Otherwise, you’re not legally allowed to help him. Why not?
Many state privacy laws don’t let parents make healthcare or financial decisions for their adult children. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying their college tuition and health insurance, your hands are legally tied. To solve this issue, you can have legal documents prepared that will allow you to continue in your guardianship role.
Three important documents are a power of attorney, health care proxy to assign you or another trusted adult as your child’s health care representative, and a HIPAA release. Without these, your child could be incapacitated and in a hospital or financially stranded somewhere. You could be required to petition a judge to let you help your child.
The pre-signed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form lets you immediately access your child’s medical records, and an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card can fit in a wallet and provide all his or her approved emergency contacts, health insurance info and known allergies.
Most of us don’t consider estate planning for our kids, at least not in the context of needing to care for them as adults should anything happen to them. However, if you want to be there for your college-aged child to the best of your ability, you’ll need legal basis. As they begin to transition into adulthood, they need to start thinking of their own plans for unexpected incapacity or death.
While you hope that you will never need any of these items, knowing that you will be able to help your college student if necessary will provide some peace of mind. For more information on this and other estate planning topics, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: businessinsavannah.com (July 22, 2016) “College-bound children need critical financial, health documents”