In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
College Planning: What You Need to Know About Medical Release Documentation and Powers of Attorney
Congratulations, your child is going to college! Among the long checklist of items requiring attention, you should include an advance medical directive and powers of attorney. As soon as your child attained the age of eighteen, he or she became an adult and your position as natural legal guardian ended.
Relatively new medical and financial privacy laws restrict medical institutions from providing information without a prior release. Your child must formally designate an individual, presumably you, to make health care decisions and financial decisions in the event a sudden illness or accident prevents them from handling their own affairs. Without the proper documents, you could find yourself unable to talk to doctors or even be notified that there is a problem. As part of the admissions process many colleges and universities include documents that allow the student to give another person access to notices such as tuition bills, registration notices, and grade information, but not all institutions provide this option and for those that do, it is easy to miss it in the plethora of documents requiring attention. Also, these admission forms do not always include a health care proxy.
In Maryland, a surrogate decision maker statute allows a parent to act if an adult child has not executed an Advance Medical Directive and is unable to communicate fully with medical providers but not all states have such laws. Without the proper documentation, a judge may be required to appoint a parent as guardian to handle the adult child’s health care decisions and financial information. Having the proper documents in place avoids the added stress of uncertainty and delay.
The above is not limited to college bound children. We recommend all legal adults have Advance Medical Directives, Powers of Attorney and Last Will and Testaments. Unfortunately, an accident or sudden illness can afflict anyone.
If you need help or wish to discuss further, please contact me.