Although college has taken on myriad different shapes for students this year, it remains both an exciting and anxiety-inducing time for parents. In addition to the academic and social navigation that parents fret about when their college aged child lives independently and often far away, health and safety have taken on an out-sized role for many parents against the backdrop of the current global pandemic. Although not our usual client and friend communication, a recent incident reminded us how unexpectedly these situations arise and how unprepared most of us are when they do.
Healthcare planning for college aged children is a consideration in the best of times, and an important one now. What happens if your child gets sick or is seriously injured while away? Almost all college students are 18 or over, making them adults in the eyes of the law. As a result, parents no longer have automatic access to their child’s healthcare information or financial information, which can impede parents’ ability to get important information and assist their child.
If you have not already done so, now is the time to consider a durable power of attorney and a healthcare proxy for your college aged child to give you both some peace of mind. A durable power of attorney establishes who can execute documents and make financial decisions on behalf of your child, including the sale or conveyance of real and personal property. A healthcare proxy gives the agent the power to access healthcare information, sign consents and/or medical releases and to make medical decisions should your child be incapacitated. It should also contain language regarding end of life decisions, also known as a living will. As an adult, your college aged child may legally sign both a durable power of attorney and a healthcare proxy and establish who may legally act on her behalf in the event she is unable.
Although we all hope never to be faced with making these decisions for our children, thoughtful conversations combined with careful planning can permit parents and children to establish a plan that reflects the child’s wishes and eliminates at least one potential administrative obstacle, allowing parents to focus on their child in a time of crisis.
If you have any questions about a Durable Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Proxy, or other issues, please let us know.