As high school graduation nears, there are so many things that can take up the attention of you and your child- prom, graduation and getting ready for the new experience of college. In all the prepping for what is to come, it is easy to overlook one very important decision. In Texas, the legal age is 18 which means your child is now considered a legal adult. Most people do not even consider preparing estate planning documents until they are much older. However, estate planning documents can be crucial to a young adult.
As a parent, you are used to being able to contact your child’s healthcare provider and freely communicate with them. With your children now being away at college and being considered a legal adult, what does that mean for you as a parent?
This is important to think about because unfortunately the future is unpredictable. What happens if your now college student is in a car accident or suffers another type of serious injury that renders them unconscious. As the parent, healthcare providers can legally no longer provide you with information on your child’s situation without your child’s consent. If your child is unconscious and can not consent, what happens then? Who can make the medical decisions for them? You and your child should consider executing a HIPPA release, a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.
A HIPAA release form allows a healthcare provider to share your child’s confidential health care information. So, even if your child is alert and able to make their own medical decisions, by being listed on the document, you can call and get valuable updates on their condition, review medical tests, and help your child make important medical decisions in a crisis. This document can be limited in the event there may be some aspect of your child’s healthcare they consider private, and they do not wish you to know about. The HIPAA release will allow healthcare providers to share important information with you during a time when such information may be most needed.
The medical power of attorney grants the agent the legal authority to make healthcare decisions should your child be unable to make them due to incapacity or disability. This has the added effect of avoiding the necessity of obtaining guardianship over your young adult child to be able to make decisions if they are legally unable to make them on their own behalf.
Lastly, a financial power of attorney will allow your child’s agent to conduct their financial affairs while they are not able to do so themselves. If your child does not want you to step in and assist them unless they are incapacitated, a financial power of attorney can be made ‘springing.’
Failure to have the appropriate powers of attorney and legal documents in place would mean that you would have to seek a guardianship in court. This is a lengthy and often expensive process. However, you can avoid this type of situation by making sure the proper documents are in place. Before your child leaves home, make sure to schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney. The Hoggatt Law Firm provides comprehensive estate planning services, and you can make appointments by contacting us through our website or by contacting us at: 281-508-2228.