The college experience can be just as much about social fulfillment as academic learning. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has complicated both elements amid a surge in confirmed cases impacting young people. With universities planning to reopen in the fall, the stakes are high. Do you know how parents and college kids can prepare?

It may be unrealistic to expect students to wear masks at parties and observe social distancing guidelines outside of the classroom. This begs the question, what would you do in the event of an outbreak, or worse? Just because parents would want to intervene if their child was hospitalized, does not necessarily mean they can. Once a child reaches age 18, he or she is legally an adult and important health care restrictions apply.

Whether preparing for COVID-19 or a random college accident, every parent should secure these health care documents:

  • Health Care Surrogate. A health care surrogate allows for a designated individual, like a parent, to make legally binding medical decisions on behalf of a young-adult student in the event of incapacitation. If the document is not in place prior to an emergency, then doctors and other medical professionals may have the authority to make important decisions that you do not agree with. 
  • General Durable Power of Attorney. A general durable power of attorney can empower another to act on financial and legal matters for the principal, the person who established the power of attorney. It remains intact even if an adult child is severely ill or incapacitated. If named, parents would have the ability to manage bank accounts, pay bills, file taxes, break a lease and apply for government assistance.
  • HIPAA Release. Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, a person’s medical information must be kept private unless an authorization form allows specific individuals to access it. Without a HIPAA release, parents could be blocked from talking to their adult child’s doctors and learning about critical health developments. 
  • Living Will. A living will is a legal document that specifies the end of life care actions that should be taken or not taken if a person in a terminal condition can no longer make his or her own decisions due to illness or incapacity. Where a health care surrogate may provide parents the authority to make decisions on behalf of an adult child, a living will provides instructions that should be followed for end of life care. 

Securing these important health care documents can provide peace of mind ahead of any potential emergency. Contact our office to schedule an appointment so we can help you navigate these challenges.