As I prepare for my daughter’s 18th birthday tomorrow, the Trusts and Estates attorney in me cannot help but draft this post to my clients and colleagues.
With college just around the corner for many of our children, you have undoubtedly created a very lengthy ‘to-do’ list, including shopping, packing and laundry. My guess is that creating and signing estate planning documents does not top (or even make) your list. However, before sending your child off, it is critical to consider several necessary legal documents for your child, which are all too-often overlooked.
In most states, like it or not, an 18-year old college student is considered a legal adult. That means that, as a parent, your legal right to make important decisions about your child’s health and finances is no longer automatic. Accordingly, it is imperative that you establish your legal ability to make these decisions before the unexpected requires it and it is too late. Before your child departs for college and embarks on the next stage of his or her life, a health care proxy, power of attorney and HIPAA authorization, at a minimum, should be created and executed.
1. Health Care Proxy
The Health Care Proxy will allow your adult child to appoint you as his or her agent to make health care decisions on his or her behalf, in the event that your child is unable to do so. In the event of your child’s incapacity or incompetence, as health care agent, you would be authorized to make any decisions regarding your child’s treatment.
2. Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney allows your child to appoint you as agent to handle his or her financial affairs, including paying bills, making deposits or withdrawals, opening or closing accounts, filing tax returns and renewing a lease.
A Power of Attorney is particularly important in the event of a child’s incapacity or incompetence, as it may avoid the costly and complicated Guardianship procedure which is otherwise required when an individual becomes incapacitated for any reason, including accident or disease. In addition, it can prevent any difficulties involved with the management of your child’s financial affairs while a Guardianship proceeding is pending and before a Guardian has been appointed by the court.
3. HIPAA Authorization
This form enables your child to grant written permission to his or her health care providers to share medical information with you, as your child’s health care agent.
We have streamlined the process to get these documents in place for your children. Simply complete the form that can be found at the following link to our secure portal:
Upon receipt of your completed questionnaire, we will email you to confirm payment of fees and promptly begin preparing these critically important documents.
Please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.