Make Sure You Can Act on Their Behalf in Case of An Emergency
It’s graduation time, and even though the ceremony may look a little different this year because of COVID-19, it still means your “baby” is all grown up and preparing to head out into the real world. But, before your child (or grandchild!) plans to head off for college or pursues other endeavors, it’s important to think about a few life changes now that he or she is an “adult” in the
eyes of the law.
Blocked By HIPAA Laws
From a legal standpoint, you may be surprised to learn that you now need written permission to make any important medical or financial decisions on your adult child’s behalf because of HIPAA regulations.
For example, if your child needs medical records for college or an internship, you won’t be able to reach out to his or her doctor anymore without explicit permission. Nor will you be able to contact banks, change flight plans or communicate with the admissions office at school.
Even worse, if your child is injured or needs urgent medical treatment (perhaps if he or she contracts the coronavirus and needs hospital care), doctors may refuse to speak to you because of privacy laws. There’s no greater nightmare for parents than being shut out of their child’s care when fast (and potentially life-saving) decisions need to be made.
An Easy Solution
Fortunately, these situations are entirely avoidable by having 3 simple legal documents in place. You can officially celebrate your child’s “rite of passage” into adulthood by helping him or her create the following:
Advance Health Care Directive or “Medical Power of Attorney” – This document allows a young adult to appoint someone they trust (the parent) to be their health care agent, should they become incapacitated and unable to speak for themself. It also specifies their personal wishes for life-sustaining medical treatment.
Financial Power of Attorney- A financial power of attorney allows the teen to give someone they trust (usually their parents) permission to access bank accounts and act financially on their behalf if an emergency occurs. Activities covered under the power of attorney include paying bills, buying or selling assets, applying for social security or other government benefits and the opening and closing of accounts.
Finally, for added protection, it’s wise to create an ICE Card (In Case Of Emergency) to be kept in the child’s wallet listing the names of all approved emergency contacts, health insurance information and all known allergies.
Protect Your Child
Remember, it’s natural to want to jump in and help your child in an emergency. Yet without these documents in place, you could be a helpless spectator if he or she is unable to communicate. Especially during the current COVID crisis, it’s important to help your young adult create these designation documents to document their wishes. If you have questions about helping your young adult put these important legal documents in place, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.