A few years ago, we wrote an article called, But Aren’t We Your Parents? The article was about a child who went to college out of state and was in an accident.
Once the child's parents arrived, the doctors would not share any information about their child’s condition or injuries because their "child" was 18 and considered an adult. As an attorney, we see this situation arise more than we ever imagined. And honestly, now that I am a parent, it makes me appreciate the strength my parents had for allowing me to go off to college with all the worrying I’m sure they endured.
Imagine receiving that early Saturday morning phone call with an unfamiliar voice on the line telling you your child has been involved in an accident. I know my first reaction would be to get in my car or take the first flight out to get to my child. I’d rush as fast as I could to the hospital only to be told that my child is still alive but has not regained consciousness and may not for hours, days, or even months. As the shock wears off and the fog slowly lifts, I begin to think of what to do with their apartment lease, bank account, car, and even their medical decisions.
You may have thought you and your husband were being “responsible” by having your estate planning documents in place, but never did you dream that your child going off to college needed these documents as well. Because your child is 18 and considered an adult, without these documents, you have no legal rights to make decisions for them. This includes not having the right to see their medical records, to relocate them to another hospital facility, to break their lease, or access their bank accounts. In order to have these rights, you are forced to hire an attorney and get the court involved. It is the court that will tell you who is best suited to make decisions on behalf of your child. This is a costly and lengthy process that could have been avoided if you had the proper estate planning documents in place.
We recommend the following documents:
- Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- HIPAA Authorization
- Directive to Physicians ("Living Will")
Protect your child by having these important documents in place before they leave for school in the fall.
Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?
If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.