What if your child needs help, but can't make important decisions for themselves because of some medical condition? Want to make medical decisions for them when they're not able to? Or see their grades, handle financial affairs if they're in a coma? Then you need to make sure they have three very important documents to allow you to help or someone else to help in time of need.
The documents needed are actually the most overlooked estate planning documents for the majority of estate plans, but particularly so when it's your College Aged Child. Those documents are the Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney and HIPAA. Because of state privacy laws, college privacy policies and HIPAA (Health Information Portability Authorization Act) when your child turns 18 they're an adult in the eyes of the law and even though you're their parent you may be powerless to make decisions for them if they're unable to.
Most of us are familiar with the Advanced Health Care Directive, also known as a Living Will, because of the infamous legal battle that ensued from 1998 to 2005 over continuing life support for Terry Schiavo. No parent wants to live that nightmare.
The other document is the HIPAA authorization form. This document provides for the release of medical records and permits the authorized person named in the document to talk to their doctor so informed medical decisions can be made.
Finally, your adult child should have a Durable Power of Attorney so that your child's financial affairs can be handled when they're unable to. This document can also allow you to see their grades if they're in college.
Your child is an adult, so treat them like one and discuss these extremely important documents. Explain to them that these documents can be revoked at any time and that they remain in charge of their own personal affairs. You should also discuss in advance how and why these documents should be used and agree to abide by that discussion.
Without these estate planning tools you might be shut out of obtaining information and involved in decision making that affects your child until a Court has ruled in an expensive guardianship proceeding who should be permitted to know this information and make these decisions.
Finally, it's never to early to have your adult child begin thinking about a basic will in combination with these other valuable estate planning tools. Give us a call to schedule an appointment to address all of these concerns.