Starting college is a big deal for students and their parents. Students are taking on a fairly long commitment to their education and a lot of responsibilities that are part of it. They are facing a new environment, new peers and a different kind of accountability. Their parents are juggling dual roles of supporting and letting go.
One of the very first acts of the newly minted adult should be that of creating an Estate Plan. Although it will not likely involve many assets, it does involve some very important decisions.
There should be a HIPPA Consent form that will allow the parents (and anyone else they choose) to receive information in the event of their incapacity. There should also be a Healthcare Power of Attorney. This allows the student to name who will make medical decisions for him or her. Without these forms in place and available to doctors and health care providers, parents could learn that their child has been in an accident but no one would be able to tell them about their child’s condition! If the student is in a coma for an extended period of time and cannot give the appropriate consent, the parents could have to go to court to obtain guardianship in order to get information or participate in treatment decisions for their child.
There should also be a Directive to Physicians in which the student gives instructions regarding if and when life support measures should be employed, as well as when they should not.
These are big decisions for anyone, but necessary for the benefit of young adults and their parents.
Our office can help with providing well-crafted documents that will reflect the student’s wishes. We will also make sure they are readily available to physicians and healthcare providers wherever the student may be. The Emergency Document Card that I provide to my clients will give emergency personnel access to the healthcare documents and information on who to contact. It is something you hope you will never need. You will rest easier; however, if parents and students know they can be there for each other if a medical crisis should occur.