After high school graduation celebrations are over, it will not be long before you are helping your college-aged children, grandchildren or other college-bound loved ones complete their off-to-college checklists. While class registration, textbooks to rent, and school supplies to purchase for this coming fall are on these lists, chances are that preparing Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives for financial matters and healthcare decisions does not make it onto the average off-to-college checklist. However, when a person turns 18, in most states they reach the legal age of majority. This means a person becomes legally competent. This person gains the authority to execute a Will, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and other important legal documents.
If a child is under the age of 18, parents are able to make healthcare and financial decisions for them. However, once a child turns 18, parents are no longer able to make these decisions for their children. Therefore, if your child has an accident at college and does not have a Health Care Directive in place, hospitals do not have to speak with you. If your child needs help making financial decisions at college and does not have a Power of Attorney in place, financial institutions do not have to speak with you or provide you with information you may need to help your children make financial decisions.
Therefore, this summer is a great opportunity for college-bound students to consider having Powers of Attorney and a Health Care Directive prepared for them. Powers of Attorney allow a person to authorize the individuals they name, their Agents, to make medical and financial decisions for them, if they are unable to do so for themself. Also, Powers of Attorney address the limitations emergency contacts may face when attempting to assist college students during a medical emergency in college. In addition, a Healthcare Power of Attorney should include a HIPAA release, which grants an Agent access to medical records. Access to these medical records could provide an Agent with important information they might need to make medical decisions during a medical emergency a college student.
If you, your children, family members, or friends know someone headed to college this fall and they do not have Powers of Attorney or Health Care Directives, please have them contact us or give us a call. We can help. We will meet with your college-bound loved ones and ensure that Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives are checked off on their off-to-college checklists!