Presented by: Bradford & Holliman, Estate Planning
In August last year, I wrote about the types of emergency information and legal documents your young adult should have in hand when heading to college. With the pandemic still a threat, the need for healthcare legal documents is even more important this year.
A healthcare power of attorney is a critical item, particularly if your student is considered an adult in Alabama or the state where the college is located. Once your student is considered an adult legally, parents have much less authority. If infected with the coronavirus and put on a ventilator, your college student would not be able to speak for himself and make healthcare decisions.
A healthcare power of attorney is sometimes called a medical power of attorney, an advance directive, or a healthcare proxy. In all cases, it is a legal document that allows a person to elect someone else (and a backup) to handle healthcare decisions on their behalf ONLY if they are not able to do so themselves. These situations occur when a person is incapacitated due to a coma, a vegetative state, or any type of mental condition that impairs the person from thinking rationally. Either witnesses and/or a notary public are required to acknowledge the signatures.
A living will is usually attached to a healthcare power of attorney. With a living will, your young adult can specify their end-of-life wishes such as withholding food, water, breathing assistance (ventilator) if certain medical conditions occur. If the worst happens, you may want to also know your student’s preferences regarding organ donations.
Parents always worry when their kids grow up and head out on their own whether to work or to college, but especially now with a pandemic around the world. Young adults are full of youthful optimism and may think “oh, that would never happen to me.” The best parents can do is provide the cautionary tale that “there’s always a first time” and have legal protections in place so that if difficult healthcare decisions are faced, the family is legally set to make the best decisions possible.
Take care of these legal matters with an experienced estate attorney before your young adult leaves home for college. And check your own while you are at it.
Partner at Bradford & Holliman
Estate Planning, Trusts & Special Needs
No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.