Many of us assume that estate planning is largely concerned with end-of-life issues… and thus, may be of limited use for the young and the healthy. College students, in particular, probably don’t have estate planning on their radar, and we can’t really say that we blame them.
If you are the parent of a college student, however, it may be worthwhile to talk with your son or daughter about estate planning, and specifically to ensure that they have a healthcare Power of Attorney in place.
Allow us to explain why this document is so important, particularly for those who are leaving their mom and dad to head off to school.
What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
Let’s start with a quick definition.
A healthcare Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to name someone as your legal representative. Basically, the document empowers your representative to make decisions about your medical treatment and care, should you become medically incapacitated.
Be aware that this is different from a financial Power of Attorney, which works in much the same way, but empowers your representative to make business or financial decisions in your stead.
The healthcare Power of Attorney also differs from the advance health care directive. An advance health care directive does not appoint anyone to be your legal representative, but does outline your wishes, specifically regarding issues such as the use of life support systems, breathing machines, feeding tubes, etc.
With any questions related to directive Power of Attorney issues, don’t hesitate to contact an estate planning lawyer.
Why Your College Student Needs a Power of Attorney
Now we return to our primary question: Why does your college student need a Power of Attorney (or, for that matter, an advance care directive)?
Keep in mind that, when your child turns 18, they are legally considered to be an adult. What that means is that, as a parent, you no longer have any rights to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. This is all well and good, unless your son or daughter is involved in an accident, becomes ill, or otherwise finds themselves medically incapacitated.
Without a Power of Attorney naming you as their legal representative, you will not have any way to direct the medical treatment they receive. In fact, due to confidentiality laws, you may not have any way of knowing what kind of treatment they are receiving. Again, in the eyes of the state, your college student is an independent adult.
Having a healthcare Power of Attorney in place can help keep you in the loop, and also provide you with the legal authority needed to guide your son or daughter’s medical care. Hopefully, you will never actually need to use this authority, but in a real emergency, having this documentation in place can save you a lot of hassle and heartache.
The bottom line: It’s important to ensure your college-age student has their directive Power of Attorney documents ready. With additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact an advance care directive expert from Singh Law Firm.
Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer in Fremont, CA
Singh Law Firm has ample experience working with individuals and families throughout the Fremont area, ensuring they are prepared for all contingencies… including healthcare emergencies.
When you are ready to speak with an estate planning or living trust attorney, reach out to Singh Law Firm directly. We’d love to tell you more about how healthcare directive law affects you and your loved ones. To schedule a consultation, contact our office at any time.