BY: Joan Reed Wilson, Esq.

For many parents, December is the time when their empty nests fill up with college-aged children returning home for their holiday break. It is a time of joy, reconnecting and lots of laundry. Hopefully your student’s time away from home was filled with learning and growing in good health. The last thing parents want to think about is that their child might have to be hospitalized while away at school, but it is important to be prepared.   Worse than having your college-aged child hospitalized is hearing from the hospital staff that you cannot receive any information on your child’s status or make any decisions on your child’s behalf. Parents generally have this authority while children are minors; however, when the child reaches the age of majority (18), parents do not have the right to review the child’s medical records or make decisions for their child’s health care.

An Advance Healthcare Directive executed by the college student can give the parents this authority. An Advance Healthcare Directive includes a medical power of attorney that allows the student to appoint another person to access his or her health care records and make medical decisions on his or her behalf, if the child cannot do so on his or her own. Completing an Advance Health Care Directive naming a parent as the Agent will provide parents and students with the assurance that if an emergency occurs, the parents will be allowed to do what they do best–act on their child’s behalf and in his or her best interest.

In between catching up and folding laundry, please take some time this holiday break to discuss with your college-aged child the value of executing this very important document.
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