Amazing how quickly time passes. This post was originally written seven years ago, but for those with children graduating from high school soon, it is worth repeating.
My son just graduated from high school and will be off to college soon. We are already deciding what computer, rugs, curtains, posters, shelves, etc. he will need. We are looking at a bank account and debit card for his incidentals. Is there anything else to consider? Well, yes there is.
Now that your child is over 18, he is an adult – scary thought! If your child should have an accident at school and need medical care, the health care providers may be reluctant to provide you information or take direction from you unless your “child” has granted you that right.
Here are some important documents to prepare:
Durable Power of Attorney. This document gives another person the authority to make personal and financial decisions on your behalf. A Durable Power of Attorney can cover all aspects of your personal and financial affairs, or may be limited to specific situations and activities. Of all the documents listed here, this one probably has the most options for specific tailoring.
Medical Power of Attorney. This document designates a person your child trusts (presumably you, but may be others, also) to make health care decisions on his behalf should he be unable to make such decisions. It is effective immediately after it is executed and is typically effective indefinitely. The agent may make health care decisions on your child’s behalf only if your child’s attending physician certifies in writing that your child is incompetent to make those decisions. The physician must file the certification in the medical record. Treatment may not be given to or withheld from your child if he objects. This is true whether or not your child is incompetent.
Directive to Physicians and Family. This document is sometimes referred to as a living will. It is used to prohibit or authorize the use of life-prolonging treatments when a person’s condition is terminal (doctor has diagnosed the person with less than six months to live) or irreversible (condition, injury, or illness that may be treated, but is never cured or eliminated; that leaves a person unable to care for or make decisions for the person’s own self; and that, without life-sustaining treatment provided in accordance with the prevailing standard of medical care, is fatal).
HIPAA Release. This is a critical document. It allows medical providers to release to the designated persons medical and health related information about the patient that would otherwise be protected under federal law from being disclosed.