It seems like only yesterday that your baby was fumbling in their crib and today they are packing their bags for college. Their future is full of hope, and you as a parent are well deserved to share in the excitement. Yet every new chapter in life requires planning. This time is often stressful for children and parents alike. We can offer parents peace of mind by providing the legal College Student Security Kit that every young adult needs to enter the world, prepared to face life’s challenges. Parents will keep their sanity knowing that in case of emergency, their child has the proper paperwork in place to legally allow their parents to act on their behalf.
Why is this Legal Paperwork Necessary?
If your child (or grandchild) recently graduated from high school, or is already in college, your child turning 18 years old marks a big legal milestone. The law treats them as adults with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. While your child can now legally vote, join the military, and get a tattoo, your rights as a parent grow more limited. Specifically, your child’s newfound liberties can affect you (the parent) in these important ways:
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. If your child is 18 or older, the hospital is prohibited from providing you with any information about the status of your child 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.
Health Care Surrogate, Living Will and HIPAA Authorization
As it relates to healthcare decisions, a Health Care Surrogate allows your child to appoint you or another responsible adult as his or her agent to act on their behalf if they cannot act for themselves. For example, if your child is incapacitated, you will have the authority to make those necessary healthcare decisions on their behalf. 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.
This was the type of ordeal that occurred in the well-known case of Teri Schiavo, who was 26 years old when she became legally incapacitated and became the subject of a drawn-out legal battle involving the conflicting wishes between her parents and her spouse. A Living Will allows your child to state their wishes about end-of-life medical care, and allows you, as the parent to best carry out those wishes regarding life sustaining procedures.
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.
The digital age has allowed us to use these crucial legal documents as soon as they are needed. For example, if your child has a health emergency away from home, you will be able to e-mail the Health Care Surrogate and HIPPA Waiver to the healthcare facility and someone from the healthcare facility will be allowed to speak with you regarding your child’s condition.
Durable Power of Attorney
With respect to legal and financial decisions, a Durable Power of Attorney will allow your child to appoint you as their agent, so that you can immediately act on their behalf if they are unable to due to a sudden injury or their 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 “steps 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.
College Student Security Kit
As a college send-off, for the months of August and September we offer our College Student Security Kit for a flat rate of $500.00. This kit will include the following legal documents necessary for any adult child leaving home: Designation of Health Care Surrogate Form, Living Will, HIPAA Release Authority, and the Durable Power of Attorney.
With every new chapter in life, careful planning is required to minimize hardships and more importantly, keep your peace of mind knowing your child is protected. Effective estate planning is a useful way of ensuring you can be there for your adult child in case of an emergency. Contact OC Estate and Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a personalized consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.