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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Back to School Checklist: Pens, Paper, and Powers of Attorney

It’s that time of year again, when college students prepare to begin a new semester, whether at a physical campus or online, and other young adults are preparing to enter the workforce for their first job outside of school. It’s an exciting time for these young adults and their parents, who are proud of their children for moving on to the next stage in their lives.

However, as a parent, you still have that worry that you will receive a phone call from your child’s school or workplace that there has been an accident involving your child. Many young adults will end up visiting the campus doctor or the emergency room due to illness or accident. As a parent, you have a right to know your child’s medical information if they are in the hospital – but only until they turn eighteen.

Once your child turns eighteen, you lose the ability to manage your children’s finances, make their medical decisions, or even know their medical condition. This is due to state law that declares that your child is an adult when he or she turns eighteen, and also the federal and healthcare privacy laws in the United States dictating that an adult’s information cannot be shared with anyone else not explicitly granted permission. This means that if something were to happen to your child at school or their workplace, and they were unconscious in the hospital, you would not be able to find out their medical condition from their doctor.

This can be prevented by your child signing a few documents when they turn eighteen: a medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and a HIPAA release. A medical power of attorney allows your child to choose an agent to make their medical decisions if they do not have the capacity to do so. A durable power of attorney allows your child to choose an agent to make their financial decisions and handle their accounts if they do not have the capacity to do so. A HIPAA release allows your child to designate who can know their medical information if they are with a doctor or in the hospital.

Signing these documents before your child heads back to school will ease some of your worries so you can know what is happening with your child if something does happen and may prevent a future guardianship. If you are interested in having these documents prepared for your child, you should consult with an estate planning attorney.

Julia “Jules” Pullin is an associate attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm practicing in estate planning, probate, guardianships, elder law, and civil appeals founded by managing attorney Julia Dean. Julia Dean has been recognized as a Top Attorney and Leading Advisor by Acquisition International, Forbes, Newsweek, H Texas, Houstonia, and the Sugar Land Sun, and has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Distinction Award. The Dean Law Firm has been named “Texas’ Most Outstanding Estate Planning Boutique” by Acquisition International for the year 2019 and is also named “Best Law Firm of the Year” by Lawyer International Legal 100 for the year 2019. The Dean Law Firm is committed to bringing you peace of mind by providing thoughtful estate planning for your family.

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