With graduation season upon us, parents of adult students should have their kids sign a health care power of attorney to ensure that they will be there for them should their child be in a serious accident. It’s a tradition that graduates receive gifts from friends and family, however I recommend that diploma recipients give their parents or guardians this one gift before they leave for college, the military, or take a full time position on the couch in the basement while they figure life out. That gift is a health care or medical power of attorney.
Students who are eighteen may not be in adults in the eyes of their parents, since they still living at home, and are not quite out on their own. In the eyes of the law however, they are. This means that if your child is seriously hurt and can’t communicate, you won’t be able to help him or her in their time of need.
In 1996 Congress enacted HIPAA (it has been revised several times since then), which protects the privacy and security of health information. By law, when your kid turns eighteen you will no longer have access to their health care records, and you will no longer be able to make health care decisions for them.
A health care power of attorney, that is drafted to appoint you as the agent for your son or daughter, will give you the legal power to make medical decisions for them in case they are in the hospital and can’t communicate. In Colorado a health care or medical power of attorney does not need to be notarized, so you can have your child sign it before they leave the house on their eighteenth birthday. As a matter of fact, I recommend that you have the document ready for them as they sit down at the breakfast table. Perhaps, even withholding food, until they sign. ;o)
Tell your adult child, it’s not a gift for him or her, it’s a gift for you.
Health care powers of attorney can be found online or at the library, but to be certain that it follows Colorado law, consult an estate planning attorney who will be able to provide this document un-bundled, and at a reasonable price.
If you would like more information about health care powers of attorney or if you have any other estate planning questions, please contact me at email@example.com or call (303)900-2LAW (2529).
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice about your case or situation. There may be exceptions to the information outlined above. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions about your estate or a decedent’s estate.