The Essential Documents Your College-Bound Kid Needs
Imagine: your daughter Sarah is an 18-year-old college student away from home for the first time. She is excited about her new independence but also a bit nervous about being truly on her own for the first time. Totally normal, right?
One day, on a typical Friday night at college, Sarah was out with her friends, celebrating the end of the week. They went to a party, and Sarah had a few too many drinks. She ends up falling, hitting her head, and is knocked unconscious.
Sarah is rushed to the hospital, where she is diagnosed with a concussion and a brain bleed.
Sarah’s parents receive a phone call from the police detailing the news of the accident. With Sarah hours away, they rush to call the hospital hoping to find out more information. Unfortunately, Sarah is no longer a minor which means the hospital isn’t required to share any information with them because of HIPPA laws.
This situation is what Sarah’s parents were nervous about before she left for school. They knew that while she was away, anything could happen, and wanted to be sure that they could remain informed and make decisions about her care in case of a medical emergency.
Thankfully, Sarah and her parents met with their family attorney and had already created a healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) for her. The document names her father as her healthcare agent. Because Sarah and her parents already had this document in place, her father was allowed to make decisions about her care.
He decides to have Sarah placed in a medically induced coma. He also chooses to have her taken to a different hospital with a better reputation for treating head injuries. Sarah fully recovers and is grateful that her parents had a healthcare power of attorney in place. She knows that if she hadn't had a healthcare power of attorney, the doctors would have had to make medical decisions for her, and she might not have gotten the care she needed.
This situation, albeit scary, is highly possible as your child goes off to college for the first time.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 22,219 college students between the ages of 18 and 22 are hospitalized for alcohol-related causes each year. This number represents about 1% of all college students in the United States.
Listen, as a father of three girls…I get it. In 2022, I dropped my eldest daughter off at college for the first time, and she was a minimum 10-hour drive away from home. While this is an exciting time for you and your child, it's important to consider their legal and financial needs. That's why you should prioritize having a healthcare power of attorney in place.
What Is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that gives you, or another trusted individual, the authority to make medical decisions on your child's behalf if they become incapacitated. This could happen if they are in an accident, become ill, or cannot make their own medical decisions for any other reason.
Having a healthcare power of attorney is especially important for college students. This is because they are away from home and may not have their parents or other trusted individuals nearby to make medical decisions for them. If your child does not have a healthcare power of attorney and becomes incapacitated, the doctors are not required to share information with you and you may not be able to make decisions about their ca
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a healthcare power of attorney for your college-aged child. First, the document should be specific about the types of medical decisions you or your designated agent can make. Second, the document should be signed by your child and two witnesses. Finally, the document should be filed with your child's healthcare provider.
Having a healthcare power of attorney in place is an important way to protect your child's medical needs. If you have any questions about healthcare power of attorney, you should consult with an attorney.
Here are some additional benefits of having a healthcare power of attorney for your college-aged child:
- It gives you peace of mind knowing that you can make medical decisions for your child if they become incapacitated.
- It ensures that your child's wishes will be respected if they cannot make their own medical decisions.
- It can help to avoid legal disputes if your child's medical condition is complex or controversial.
What About a Property POA?
In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, having a property power of attorney for your college-aged child is also a good idea. This document gives you, or another trusted individual, the authority to manage your child's property if they become incapacitated. This could include paying their bills, managing their investments, and selling their property.
Having a property power of attorney in place can help ensure your child's property is properly managed if they become incapacitated. It can also help to avoid legal disputes if your child's property is complex or controversial.
Here are some of the benefits of having a property power of attorney for your college-aged child:
- It gives you peace of mind knowing that you can manage your child's property if they become incapacitated.
- It ensures that your child's property will be properly managed and protected.
- It can help to avoid legal disputes if your child's property is complex or controversial.
Have the Conversation Now...
I made sure we had these documents in place before my daughter went off to school, and because of that, we all have peace of mind should the worst-case scenario happen.
If you are the parent of a college student, have the conversation with your child about having both a healthcare power of attorney and a property power of attorney in place.
These documents are simple ways to protect your child's medical and financial needs and ensure that their wishes are respected.
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