Sending a child off to college is an exciting time, and there is no shortage of things to do and purchase beforehand!

But there’s one thing that most families overlook, and that’s making sure they have the legal paperwork in place that they’ll need to take care of their child in a medical emergency.

That 18 year old of yours is now, legally, an adult.

If, heaven forbid, your child is in an accident or has a medical emergency, you do not have the right to access your child’s medical or financial information or to make decisions for them.

If you find yourself in such a situation, you will have to apply to a Court to obtain legal authority to do these things for your child. If you’ve never been to court before, the summary is pretty much the same across the board: it’s expensive and it takes a lot of time– time which you might not have in an emergency situation.

There are three documents your child can sign to avoid this:

  1. HIPAA Authorization
  2. Power of Attorney
  3. Living Will/Advance Medical Directive.

HIPAA Authorization

Your child can sign a HIPAA Authorization to give you the ability to access their medical records and speak with their doctors. This is an important document for your child to sign, but it is limited because it doesn’t give you legal authority to actually make decisions for your child.

Power of Attorney

Your child can sign a Power of Attorney to give you the ability to make decisions on their behalf. There are many different types of Powers of Attorney, but you will have the broadest authority under a General Durable Power of Attorney.

This type of Power of Attorney would give you the ability to handle all of your child’s legal, medical, and financial affairs. It goes into effect as soon as it’s signed and would last until either your child revokes it or passes away.

Living Will/Advance Medical Directive

Your child can sign a Living Will/Advance Medical Directive to outline how they would want to be treated in the event they were in an end of life medical scenario. They could also list you as a Health Care Representative to enable you to make final decisions for them if that became necessary.

While no one ever hopes to need any of these documents, sometimes they become necessary, and it’s far easier for everyone involved if these important legal documents have been put in place in advance!

It’s not as fun as picking our dorm room decor, but you should be sure to discuss this with your child and have these documents in place before he or she heads off on their next great adventure!