College Kids May Need These Healthcare Documents Before Returning to School

College Kids May Need These Healthcare Documents Before Returning to School

Most college kids would rather think about their social lives or academic performance than an estate plan. Have you considered as a parent, however, that failing to secure healthcare estate documents before returning to school in the fall could derail their college experience, or worse?

Whether protecting against a random accident or the recent surge in COVID-19 cases impacting young people, certain health documents allow parents to cut through medical red-tape and intervene during a health emergency.

Most parents are used to taking care of their children’s medical needs. Once a child reaches age eighteen, however, he or she is legally considered an adult, and parents may be restricted from critical aspects of his or her health care. It is a frightening thought, especially for students who attend school far from home. Consider putting these important healthcare documents in place before your college kid returns to school:

  • HIPAA Release Forms. Imagine a scenario where a college student is hospitalized for COVID-19, and the student’s parents are blocked from receiving important medical information. That can happen without a HIPAA release form. Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA law, a person’s medical information must be kept private unless an authorization form provides access to specified individuals.
  • Health Care Surrogate. When your college age child executes health care estate planning tools, a health care surrogate can grant the authority to make medical decisions on his or her behalf to a parent. Where a HIPAA release provides parents with access to an adult child’s medical records and allows them to communicate with an adult child’s doctors, a health care surrogate gives the parent the authority to make legally binding medical decisions on their adult child’s behalf.
  • Durable Power of Attorney. Power of attorney arrangements can be general or specific. A health care surrogate is limited to medical concerns, but a general power of attorney extends to financial and legal issues, and can in some instances cover health care as well. Including a durability provision would further allow parents to make decisions on their adult child’s behalf if the he or she was incapacitated or unable to make competent decisions.
  • Living Will. A living will is a form of an advance medical directive that pertains only in certain circumstances. To further explain, a living will provides instructions for the type of care the creator wishes to have for end of life conditions such as a persistent vegetative state or terminal illness.

Securing these important health care documents for young adult students can allow parents to act quickly in an emergency. Consult our experienced estate planning attorney for help navigating these issues.


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