Back to School…For Disney Employees!

August 21, 2019

The first day of school conjures up images of bookbags, homework, and now Mickey Mouse. “Disney Aspire,” a program started by the Walt Disney Company in August 2018, focuses on getting their employees off the rides and back into the classroom.

The Walt Disney Company has offered to pick up the tab and pay for full tuition, as well as reimbursement of application fees, books and course materials, for any of their employees who wish to attend the University of Central Florida, in Orlando. Furthermore, for those who do not wish to commute to the main campus, there are 10 fully online programs available.

Approximately 40% of Walt Disney World’s employees have already signed up, and this fall more than 53,000 employees from Disney will be eligible to enroll in the UCF’s program. Although tuition is covered, employees still must go through the formal application process, meet the Florida residency requirements, and be admitted into the university. “Since its launch, Disney Aspire has enabled thousands of Cast Members to dream bigger and reach higher,” states George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort and UCF graduate.

Much like Disney employees who now have some homework, parents with children going back to school have homework as well: create an estate plan. Admittedly, that adds one more thing to the back-to-school to do list, but below are the two main scenarios parents MUST plan for:

If You are the Parents of College Age Children:

Turning 18 years old marks a major legal milestone for your children. The law treats them as adults with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it, while your rights as a parent grow more limited. Specifically, your child’s newfound liberties have these legal ramifications:

  • Medical Information
  • Once children become legal adults, parents no longer have the authority to receive medical information and make healthcare decisions on their child’s behalf. This situation most often arises while a child is away at school and becomes injured or has a medical emergency. Hospitals are prohibited from providing parents with any information over the phone due to very strict HIPAA laws. In fact, hospitals often refuse to even confirm or deny that a person has been admitted to the hospital as a patient. This type of frustration can easily be prevented with a properly executed Health Care Surrogate document.

    A Health Care Surrogate allows your child to appoint their parents or another responsible adult to make necessary healthcare decisions for them if they cannot act for themselves. These type of healthcare decisions include approving or denying medical procedures, selecting doctors and facilities, seeking a second opinion, accessing your child’s medical records, and any end of life decisions.

    In addition, your child should also execute a HIPAA Release Authority, also known as a HIPAA Waiver, in which they can designate you as a person who is able to receive all their medical information. This is a critical document to have because it cuts down on time spent trying to chase down medical information and instead dedicate that time to your child’s care.

  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • With respect to legal and financial decisions, a Durable Power of Attorney will allow your child to appoint a parent as their agent, so that you can immediately act on their behalf if they suffer a sudden injury or incapacity. For example, if your child suddenly falls ill, you will be able to access their bank account, speak with the financial aid office at their school, or apply for any government benefits on their behalf.

    Additionally, you will be able to access their social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, or email. Social media is the most common way that parents can piece together the last place their child was and exactly how or why their injury occurred. You, as the agent, essentially “step into your child’s shoes” and can conduct all the necessary transactions to keep their life running smoothly while they recover. The Durable Power of Attorney document kicks in immediately and ends when a person passes away.

If You are the Parents of Elementary or Secondary School Children

  • If you have minor children (those under 18 years of age in Florida), it is imperative that you and your spouse name a guardian to physically and financially take care of your children in the event that something happens to both of you. This designation can be done within your Last Will and Testament or in a separate document called a “Declaration Naming Pre-Need Guardian for Minor.” Putting your wishes in writing reduces lawsuits that arise over custody (often involving both sets of grandparents) in cases of sudden or unexpected death of both parents.

Back to school season is the best time to ensure that your children, no matter what age, are protected by proper estate planning. Being a parent is the most important job you will ever have. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or to receive a personalized consultation regarding all your estate planning options as a parent.