Kid Going to College? Here’s Why Having a Healthcare Power of Attorney Is Critical
Kid Going to College? Here’s Why Having a Healthcare Power of Attorney Is Critical

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country are back in session. If your child is headed off to college this fall, it’s critical—especially during this unprecedented time—to have legal protections in place so you can make decisions for your legal adult child. A healthcare power of attorney is one of the most important of these legal protections to set up in case something happens.

In this article, we lay out what this critical legal document is, explain why it is important to have one for your young adult children, and discuss a few other essential legal protections you can put in place.

Read on to learn more about this crucial subject.

What Is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

Also known as a medical power of attorney, healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney for healthcare, and advance directive, this type of power of attorney allows a legal adult to authorize a surrogate to make medical decisions on their behalf in case they cannot make these decisions on their own. It also allows the surrogate access to the issuing party’s (in this case the college student) medical records as well as making them a point of contact for healthcare providers.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—more commonly known as HIPAA—a legal adult’s health records are confidential information only shared between a patient and their doctor. In certain circumstances, if you are not designated as their healthcare power of attorney, you could be barred from making decisions for your child if they are incapacitated. In an emergency, a hospital may not even be able to tell you if they have admitted your child if you do not have a HIPAA release.

To ensure that this does not happen, parents need to speak to their adult children about designating them as their healthcare power of attorney and putting a HIPAA release in place.

What Other Legal Documents Do I Need for My College-Bound Child?

In addition to a healthcare proxy and HIPAA release, parents should consider creating a durable power of attorney for any children they have who are in college. Many parents do not realize that once a person turns 18, their finances become private. A parent cannot legally access their adult child’s banking or credit card accounts without a durable power of attorney in the event that their child is incapacitated. Without this document, they will have to seek a court appointment.

Another document that could be beneficial for a young adult to have in place before going to college is a will. While less important than the other documents mentioned in this article, a will can help to distribute any assets that your child has if they pass away.

Not Designated as Your Child’s Healthcare Power of Attorney?

Talk to the attorneys at Casal & Moreno today to learn what steps you need to take to ensure that your college-bound child is protected.