Written by Verity Law Associate Attorney Lisa Roelands.
As the school year is wrapping up many students are preparing to leave home for the first time to attend college in the fall. One task that probably is not on their back to school list is meeting with an attorney, but it should be.
Families should meet with an attorney prior to college to prepare for unforeseen medical and, or, financial circumstances. Imagine receiving a phone call that your child has been hospitalized. You rush to the hospital and inquire about your child’s medical condition only to find out that the doctors are not authorized to share any information with you. Unfortunately, this situation happens all too frequently.
In the state of Michigan a child is considered an adult at the age of 18.This means that, unless certain documents are in place, the parents lose the authority to gain access to medical information about the child. The fact that you, as the parent, are providing the child with their health insurance is irrelevant, you will still not be privy to their protected health information.
One way to avoid this situation is for the child to execute a patient advocate designation. This legal document allows the child to appoint an individual to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event of they are unable to make medical decisions. In addition to granting the ability to make medical decisions, the document can also provide caregivers authority to share information with a child’s parents.
An additional document that college age students should execute is a financial power of attorney. This legal document allows the parent to act on the child’s behalf to make financial decisions if the child is unavailable. Consider an example where your child is studying abroad, or attending school out of state. If banking or other financial activities need to be undertaken or your child is required to execute legal documents, the parent can use the power of attorney to act on the child’s behalf and avoid many stressful situations with a little advanced planning.
If you have a child who is turning 18 or heading off to college soon, contact Jay Rosloniec or Lisa Roelands at Verity Law at 616-258-7245, to discuss options for dealing with potential issues when your child leaves for college.