Why Your College-Bound Child Should Have a Power of Attorney

Why Your College-Bound Child Should Have a Power of Attorney

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After years of preparation and planning, your child is set to go off to college – perhaps nearby; perhaps several states away. Part of the preparation was helping your child make decisions about important issues.  Part of the learning process at college will be how to refine the decision-making process. Upon reaching age 18, your college student is considered an adult and will be required to make decisions on his or her own.

What if Your Child Is Unable to Make Decisions Due to an Injury Occurring at College? 

Hospitals, doctors, and medical providers are prohibited by medical privacy laws from informing you as a parent on the nature of your child’s medical problems. They are also prohibited from allowing you to make medical decisions on behalf of your child if he or she becomes medically unable to make those decisions. It is more common than you might think.

More than 250,000 young Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are hospitalized each year after suffering nonlethal injuries in car crashes, falls, contact sports accidents, and other incidents. Although many young adults eventually recover without a hiccup, the inability to make important medical decisions often hinders victims’ ability to heal properly. For some who are severely injured, decisions about withdrawing life-sustaining equipment or whether organs should be donated are made by medical professionals instead of people who are familiar with the college student’s preferences.

Faced with this scenario, parents might be forced to go to Court (in another state if your child goes away to college) to become guardian over the child. This will take time – which could be catastrophic – and money.  With the high cost of higher education today, adding the cost of legal action to a high-stress situation will increase the pressure on parents.

The simple way to prevent this situation is by having your child execute a Medical Power of Attorney.  This will allow one parent (or any other person that the child elects) to discuss the child’s condition and prognosis with the medical providers and, if necessary, make medical decisions. This matter should be discussed between parents and children along with other important college decisions. Once discussed, contact an attorney in your state to assist in the preparation of the Medical Power of Attorney.

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