Accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults, and a quarter of a million Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are hospitalized with non-lethal injuries each year. Can you imagine being unable to help or to make decisions for your child? It could happen if you fail to plan.
When your child turns 18, your child transforms into an adult in the eyes of the law. Overnight, you no longer have direct access to personal information or the right to make decisions for your child, who may still depend on you. The laws that once protected your child from prying outsiders, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), now block your access to information.
When you take your child to college, it is likely that the institution will offer forms for your child to sign to enable you to access personal information, to include medical records, grades, and finances. You should have your child sign any of those documents naming you as an individual who can access information. However, such consent forms often have limited applicability or expire, so they might prove inadequate over time. Accordingly, it becomes critical to implement documents that are often considered more important in later years for estate planning purposes – namely a Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
In a Power of Attorney (POA), the principal (your adult child), can name one or more agents, which could include you, their parents, older siblings or other people of trust. Those individuals, as agents, can access financial information and make financial decisions on behalf of your adult child. Those decisions could involve matters to include paying tuition, room and board, rent, or even medical bills. A POA must be drafted under the laws of the state that the child calls home, but will be recognized as valid in other states and by institutions such as universities or colleges.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA) also provides for the appointment of agents. Those agents are allowed to access medical information and to make medical decisions for your adult child if they are unable to do so. Such inability could result from being unconscious because of a physical injury or being incapable, because of a challenge with mental capacity. This document can also be used if your child wants to be an organ donor. Again, such a document should be prepared in accordance with state law.
To take the next step, you should talk to your child about the importance of these documents and the benefit of putting them in place, so you can assist them if necessary. The process of preparing and executing the documents is not time-consuming. You and your child may be fortunate enough to never have need for a POA or a HCPOA, but they are certainly a worthwhile investment. If you should have a need and they provide assistance, they are priceless.
You never want to be in a situation where you are not empowered to help your children. If you want to talk further or desire assistance to implement these critical documents, please contact Attorney Jeff Rehmeyer.
Jeffrey L. Rehmeyer II
Shareholder | Attorney
Jeffrey Rehmeyer II previously served as the firm’s leader for ten years. Jeff is fueled by a belief that planning today creates protection for businesses and families tomorrow. Jeff forms relationships with his clients, which include large and small businesses, municipalities, families and individuals. His work begins by developing an understanding of their situation, actual or anticipated challenges, and goals. Jeff sees the client first, not the case. Over the course of his legal career, Jeff has led many clients through different legal needs, from business to family to estate and individual, which gives his clients a remarkable advantage through a multi-faceted approach to the law and legal issues.
Read Jeff’s Bio Page in full HERE.