If your kids need help, these are the healthcare documents you may need
Sending kids off to school in the fall has always been an important ritual that marks the changing seasons. It’s an exciting time for kids: A time for learning, social development and a growing independence. Parents are just glad to get back into familiar routines.
Nothing’s normal anymore: Be prepared with health care documents
Anxiety over COVID is forcing new conversations as kids return to college campuses this fall. At 18 or more, these students are officially adults, but they still depend on their parents for food and shelter. Parents declare them on their taxes and pay for their health care. While these kids may be testing their independence, they remain closely tied to their families.
It may seem morbid to talk about health care documents for robust young people, but accidents and illnesses happen to young adults. COVID infects every demographic, and young people are vulnerable too. Nothing is normal anymore. If your kids are away at college and something happens to them, you want to be the one making decisions for them.
If there’s a medical emergency with your child, these three forms will help you come to the aid of your child.
1. Advance Healthcare Directive
Also referred to as a Healthcare Agent or Medical Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney. By signing this document, you are appointing someone to act on your behalf to make medical decisions if you become incapacitated. Your agent will have access to your medical records and your permission to talk with your health care providers. In this case, your son or daughter would sign this document, giving you, as a parent, permission to act in your behalf. At California Document Preparers, we include an Advance Healthcare Directive in our Living Trust package, along with our Power of Attorney.
2. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization (also called a HIPAA release)
This is a more narrow document that permits healthcare providers to disclose your health information to anyone you specify. A standalone HIPAA authorization (meaning that it is not incorporated into a broader legal document like an Advance Healthcare Directive) does not have to be notarized or witnessed; however we include Notary on our form.
This document alone will often suffice for you to get information from the health care institution treating your child. In a HIPAA authorization, young adults can stipulate that they don’t want to disclose information about sex, drugs, mental health or other details that they prefer to keep private. As with the broader Advance Healthcare Directive, a HIPAA release can also be included in a Living Trust, but it is always included as a standalone document in our estate planning package to conform with particular California rules and so that your agent doesn’t have to share your Trust document just to get health care information.
3. Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney enables a designated agent (in this case a parent) to make financial decisions on the student’s behalf. The POA can begin immediately after signing the document or only if your child becomes incapacitated. As the designated Power of Attorney, the agent can sign tax returns, access bank accounts, pay bills, make changes to a child’s financial aid package or figure out tuition problems.
Fortunately, most families will never need these forms, but it’s always a better idea to be prepared in case you do.
What else changes at 18?
As teenagers turn 18, they’re adults according to the law. They can now vote, serve in the military and on a jury, sign a contract and get married without parental consent. They still can’t legally drink alcohol and car rental companies usually will not allow them to rent cars, but their legal status is decidedly different than it was at 17. All males with U.S. citizenship must register for the selective service upon reaching the age of 18.
COVID has created urgency on so many levels
As the COVID crisis drags on, many more of our clients are scheduling appointments to create or update their Living Trusts. Our Trust package includes a Pour Over Will, and for those families with children under 18, it means that they can name a Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for them. Creating a Trust helps provide some peace of mind during these uncertain times. Best of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents.
Our Trust package includes a Will, Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive and Incapacity Planning. At California Document Preparers, for most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable.
We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas
Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.