As your child prepares to graduate and embark on new adventures, it’s essential to ensure that you have the legal authority to make important medical and financial decisions on their behalf in case of an emergency. With current privacy laws, you may find yourself unable to access medical records or make life-saving decisions without the proper documentation in place. 

This time of year, estate planning attorneys urge parents of graduating seniors to help their child prepare these three critical documents.

Advance Healthcare Directive

First, an Advance Health Care Directive allows your young adult to appoint a trusted individual (like you, the parents) to be their healthcare agent in the event they become incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes. This document also outlines their desired form of care or life support following a serious medical crisis.

Power of Attorney

Second, a Financial Power of Attorney is necessary to grant someone (like you, the parents) permission to access bank accounts and act financially on the adult child’s behalf if an emergency occurs. Activities covered under the Power of Attorney include paying bills, buying or selling assets, applying for government benefits, and opening and closing accounts.

HIPAA Authorization

Third, a signed HIPAA form is crucial to ensure that you, as parents, can communicate with physicians and access important medical records immediately. Without this form, you may find yourself unable to make informed decisions about your child’s care.

To further expedite assistance from parents in the event of an emergency, we also recommend keeping an ICE Card (In Case of Emergency) in the child’s wallet. This card should list the names of approved emergency contacts, health insurance information, and known allergies.

Many parents assume they have the legal authority to make medical and financial decisions on behalf of their child until they are legally married. However, this is not the case, and the law may prevent you from being involved in your young adult’s care without explicit permission through legal documentation.

By taking the time to prepare these documents before your child leaves for college or travels abroad, you can rest assured that you will have the legal authority to make important decisions on their behalf in case of an emergency. Remember, it’s natural to want to protect and help your child, so take the necessary steps to ensure you can do so, even in the worst-case scenario. Contact us and we’ll help you get started.