Today's webinar was focused on Educational Options After High School for Special Needs Families, and I wanted to highlight one key takeaway that applies to ALL families. Whether your child has some special needs or not, you need to have a Health Care Power of Attorney when they go to college. Why?
Accidents can happen to anyone, and medical issues can pop up unexpectedly. Unfortunately, if your child is over 18, they are legally an adult and the college and hospital are no longer obligated to talk to you about your child. They are happy to allow you to pay the bills for your child, but they will not provide information to you about their medical condition without the proper forms in place. If an accident happens, and your child ends up in the hospital, you might not even know about it.
The key is to plan in advance. Hopefully you will never even need a health care POA, but if you do it is better to have it set up and ready to go. A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document naming you as a “medical agent” for your college student. If your child becomes medically incapacitated, you can make informed medical decisions on their behalf. This document is used to name you as the point of contact and decision-maker. This allows you to decide the best course of action with the doctors. If you don’t have a healthcare power of attorney in place, the doctors will be the ones who make decisions about care.
You will also want to have a HIPAA Form (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) for authorization to be updated about your child's medical information.
The third form to consider for your college student is the General Power of Attorney, which allows you to make financial decisions on your child's behalf if they become incapacitated. This form lets your child designate you to make decisions about things like their bank accounts, filing taxes, paying bills, etc when they can no longer make decisions for themselves.
Reach out to a qualified attorney to get these documents in place.