It’s “Back to School” time. You worked hard for 18 years in order to relish the moment your children headed off to college, and I’m certain you have a Pinterest board filled with lists of college necessities! However, there are two items I guarantee are not on any of your lists: An Advanced Healthcare Directive and a Power of Attorney.
I know what you’re thinking: “I pay for their tuition. They’re listed on my health insurance plan. They may be 18, but they can’t be in need of any estate planning documents.” This is simply not the case. These two documents are essential for young adults, and your college student should have them in place.
Without these documents, parents may not have the authority to make healthcare decisions or manage money for their children once they turn 18. This means if a young adult is in an accident or becomes disabled, even for a short period of time, a parent may need court approval to act on their behalf.
My daughter was involved in an accident while attending college in Oregon. It was minor and there was no reason for me to rush up there, but she did need medical attention. I called the hospital where she was being treated, and they wouldn’t provide any information. Luckily, my daughter was able to access her cell phone and all was fine.
However, let’s talk for a moment about what would happen if it was a serious accident. She would be unavailable to answer her phone and let me know she was okay. I would be in California and she would be in Oregon, and the hospital would be unable to speak to me. I wouldn’t be able to make any medical decisions for her or find out her condition until I got to Oregon with proof that I was her parent. This would definitely NOT be okay!
Why wait until a crisis occurs? Plan ahead and have your child execute a Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive before they head off to college. It will definitely save you from panic and stress should the unthinkable occur. Our children may be 18, but they still need our guidance and protection.
Kariann Voorhees is an attorney and partner at Voorhees & Ratzlaff Law Group