I recently received a call from a client who has a daughter attending college on the Mainland. Her daughter had been in a ski-accident and was in the hospital. When the mother called the hospital to find out her daughter’s status, they would not release any information or allow the mother to make any decisions on her daughter’s behalf. You can imagine the mother’s distress, thousands of miles away and helpless.
This situation is all too common. Once your child reaches age 18, you are no longer entitled to see your child’s medical and financial records or make decisions on their behalf. Therefore, it is important for young adults to appoint trusted individuals to make medical and financial decisions in the event they are unable to do so.
Few 18-year-olds consider the need for an estate plan, because most have little in the way of property. But if your child were to suddenly lose the ability to make or communicate decisions, they would need a an authorized person to make decisions for them. Your college student will want to consider two important Powers of Attorney:
An Advance Health Care Directive gives you the ability to act on your child’s behalf with regard to medical decision-making in the event that your child is unable to do so.
A General Durable Power of Attorney gives you legal authority to act on your child’s behalf regarding financial matters, regardless of whether they are able to make decisions on their own or not. It may be used in matters of both emergency and convenience.