Health Care Power of attorney is not at the top of your list when your child becomes an adult. Going to college can be exciting. It can also be overwhelming, for both the student and their parents. From what classes should students take, to what they need to finish furnishing their dorm, there are dozens of decisions to be made. And while some seem more important than others, one of the most important is often forgotten entirely.
As Deborah L. Jacobs explains in Forbes, “The risk is real. Accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults, and a quarter-million Americans between 18 and 25 are hospitalized with nonlethal injuries each year.”
Who makes health care decisions?
What if something happens to a student while she’s away at college? An accident. An unforeseen medical emergency. What if the student is unable to let the doctors know what she wants? How will decisions be made and who will make them?
The reality is that, once children are over the age of 18, parents have no legal say over their children’s medical care. Only the adult child himself can make those decisions.
As Consumer Reports warns, “Moms and dads who still think of themselves as protectors and advisers, even after their children become legal adults, often don’t consider the real-world implications of that milestone birthday. They and their young-adult children need to think about the unthinkable in advance.”
In the event that the child is unable to do so, then the court would be asked to appoint a medical guardian to act on the child’s behalf. A parent may be appointed as a guardian, but it still would require a court hearing (and costs) to get that appointment. And there’s no automatic guarantee that the court would consent to the parent’s guardianship. A judge could decide that your child was better served by having a state social worker or someone else act as your child’s guardian. That’s a worst case scenario, but it is possible.
Are your children still covered on your insurance, and not under a Health Care Power of Attorney?
If the adult child signs a healthcare power of attorney (Health Care Power of Attorney), a student appoints someone to make medical decisions on his behalf, if he becomes incapacitated. Therefore the designee—typically a parent—can make medical-related decisions for the child, if the child is unable to.
Thus, the Health Care Power of Attorney alleviates the time and money of a court proceeding. It also probably helps ensure the child receives better care, since parents will already know their child’s medical history.
Having a healthcare power of attorney in place for your college age child provides the necessary tools to make critical medical decisions. If you have a child going away to college, contact us today, to see how a Health Care Power of Attorney and other simple forms that can protect your child.