My Facebook and Instagram feed is filled with excited posts about friends’ children’s graduations and their decisions about which colleges they will be attending.
This is certainly an exciting time of the year. So much effort has gone into preparing for this moment!
At the risk of spoiling this celebratory time, however, I am going to throw something out there that you probably are not considering and should before they leave your nest:
What happens if your now-adult child experiences a medical emergency?
Why should you think about your child experiencing a medical emergency before she or he heads to college? Imagine receiving a call from your child’s college roommate that your child was in an accident and rushed to the hospital. Then imagine you call the hospital and they tell you that they have no legal authority to share any information with you about your child’s condition. And you have no ability to weigh in on the medical decisions.
“The risk is real. Accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults. A quarter-million Americans between 18 and 25 are hospitalized with nonlethal injuries each year.”
Deborah L. Jacobs – Forbes
Many do not know that, in Wisconsin, once your child turns 18 you can no longer be involved in his or her medical decisions without your child’s express permission. What happens if your child is unconscious or otherwise unable to grant this permission following an accident or illness? Without planning ahead, you have to have a hearing in court to obtain a guardianship.
No person should be spending time in law offices and courtrooms while their child suffers in a hospital. You belong at your child’s side.
The resolution is easier than you think
With a Health Care Power of Attorney document, your adult child can designate you (or another adult) as his or her Health Care Agent to receive information and assist with decisions if he or she is not able to do so.
While you are considering this power of attorney, also consider discussing who your child wants to help with your child’s finances. A Power of Attorney for Finances and Property allows your child to name someone to access financial records and make decisions about your child’s financial affairs if they are unable to do so.
During these festive months before you send your child off to college, I encourage you to have a conversation with them about who they want to help them in a medical emergency. It only takes a moment. And then schedule an appointment to meet with an attorney to ensure your child is covered before he or she leaves for college.
Forbes Blog Post. Two Documents every 18 year old should sign. https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2014/08/15/two-documents-every-18-year-old-should-sign/#55b6ff0b6e33