Legal Needs for Your College Student Part 2: Medical Decisions

By Tracey Ingle on September 10, 2017
Legal Needs for Your College StudentIt’s every parent’s worst nightmare: your child is injured or ill and you need to make the Big Decisions.

You consult with doctors, you get second opinions, you talk with your child’s other parent and trusted family. You will do whatever it takes to make the best possible decisions for your child’s health, happiness, and quality of life.

But… what if you can’t make those decisions.

Not because you don’t want to, but because your child is 18 – and in the eyes of the law, an adult. And in the eyes of the law – you have no rights or ability to make those critical decisions that impact your child’s long-term care or well-being.

To put it plainly:

Once your child turns 18-years-old, they are legally an adult. That means that parents can no longer act on their behalf. Even if your child needs it!

This can be even more terrifying if you’ve recently dropped them off at a college campus – across the state or across the nation. Doctors will stop sharing information with you. Yes, even Campus Health for a college education you’re paying for!

Imagine, you get The Call in the middle of the night. The call that no parent ever wants to receive. There’s been an accident and you should come right away. “No, I’m sorry, we can’t share any specific information due to medical privacy laws.” The whole drive, every worst-case scenario is flashing before your eyes.

Now, I don’t want to tell you that in every crisis you’d be powerless – in truth, many hospitals and doctors in an emergency will take their direction from a parent. The problem is that you have no guarantee of this. If the parents are estranged and have different opinions, the hospital is most definitely going to insist someone obtain legal authority to make decisions. But even in the absence of any controversy, a doctor or hospital is well within its rights to require this. Would you want to leave this to chance? Or worse, the whim of the hospital’s lawyer?

There is a way to still help your child and be involved with the “adult” and crisis decisions they’re making that they might not be fully ready to make. It’s by getting a Health Care Proxy for your newly minted adult or college student.

While a Durable Power of Attorney allows you to make non-health care decisions (read about a Durable Power of Attorney in Part 1, here) a Health Care Proxy allows you to make decisions about your child’s physical self if there is ever a time they need you to by naming you their Health Care Agent.

While this is traditionally thought of as end-of-life decisions, it’s more than that! It can include any decisions they’re not able to make for themselves. It could be a routine medical procedure, and while under anesthesia a decision needs to be made. Maybe there was an accident leaving your baby unconscious, or an accidental overdose or poisoning. There are any number of things that can result in loss of consciousness.

While you’re getting the Health Care Proxy for your college student set up, this is also a great time to review your own planning. If you’re the one incapacitated, do you have a Health Care Proxy to appoint someone to take care of your needs?

Stop waiting! You need to get this done as part of being a responsible parent and modeling that behavior for your college student.

Here’s the truth:

You don’t have to have it all figured out before reaching out to a lawyer – for yourself or for your college student. Be a Good Guardian. Promise to protect your family, in writing. Apply for a FREE Good Guardian Strategy Session and in a short, complimentary phone call you can get clear on what is what is your best next step.

Apply Here – And make sure your family is taken care of.

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