If you are the parent of a recent High School Graduate, Congratulations! It is an exciting (if not somewhat challenging) time in your child’s life!!
Once your child turns 18, in the eyes of the law they are legally an adult and in charge of their own life. While you may know that in your head, the specifics of what that really means can sometimes take you by surprise. For this reason, it is important that you get a few pieces of legal documentation in place so that in the event of an emergency, you are prepared.
Medically speaking health care providers are no longer authorized to give parents details about the specifics of your 18+ child’s care unless you have the proper documentation in place. That is why a Health Care Proxy is so important!
One of the things you need to discuss with your child is filing paperwork to be designated as their Medical Power Of Attorney or Health Care Proxy. A Health Care Proxy or Medical Power Of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to make informed medical decisions on your child’s behalf if they should become medically incapacitated. If you don’t have a healthcare power of attorney in place, it is the doctors that will be the ones who will make decisions about care.
You can find a New York State Health Care Proxy Form HERE.
Another important document to get ready before your child heads off to college is a HIPAA Release. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and it allows for health care providers to share medical information with specifically designated people (parents, family members, or friends). If you have a signed HIPAA Release on file,
it is like having a permission slip. Your child’s healthcare providers will know that it is OK to share information with you.
It is important to get this documentation ready now before any medical emergency occurs. If your child is involved in an accident while they are away at school, you will not be able to find out any details over the phone UNLESS you have a HIPAA Release on file.
Again the HIPAA release does not have to include everything. Your child can dictate what information they want to be released to you so sit down and have the conversation now before they go away so that in the event of an emergency you are covered.
While the Health Care Proxy (Medical Power Of Attorney) will allow you to step in and help when it comes to healthcare-related choices, if you are going to make financial transactions on behalf of your child, you may need to put another important document in place. A General Power Of Attorney will allow your child to give authority to another person when it comes to financial and legal decisions. It may be a good idea to have a conversation about signing General Power Of Attorney for your child if you feel they will need you to make financial or legal decisions on their behalf. With this document in place you will be able to: manage bank accounts, file taxes, sign or break a lease.
Planning now, before your adult child leaves for college, you can avoid making a stressful situation much worse. Set aside the time to have the conversation and then take care of the documentation before they are miles away from home.