Ah, fall is upon us, although it’s hard to imagine with 90-plus degree temperatures in Southern California these days. Nonetheless, the leaves will be changing and our college-bound students are beginning new school years.

While your kids may have packed up their clothes and other necessary items for this new phase in their life journeys, have you taken the important and necessary steps to protect them along the way? When a child reaches 18 years of age, he or she is legally considered an adult, presumably, able to make their own decisions about their health care and finances.

However, should they become unable to handle their own affairs due to injury, illness or incompetence, who will take care of them? When your children reach majority, it is essential to establish their own Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney, and HIPPA Authorization, which will detail who is in charge to aid them.

Health Care Directive

If your young adults become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make their own health care decisions, an executed Health Care Directive allows them to legally appoint you as their agent to make medical treatment decisions on their behalf. Even as a parent, without that documentation, you have no authorization to take charge of their care.

Power of Attorney

In a like manner, your children can appoint you as their agent through a Power of Attorney that allows you to handle their financial matters, such as paying bills, banking, and filing tax returns. This documentation is particularly important if you child is unable to make his or her own decisions due to incapacity of any kind, including incompetence.

And, in the case of incompetence, whether caused by accident or illness, a Power of Attorney will mitigate the expensive and often complicated guardianship procedure that would be otherwise court mandated.

HIPAA Authorization

The HIPAA Authorization is your child’s written permission to allow his or her health care providers to share medical information with you. Without this form in place, doctors and medical facilities are not allowed legally to give you any information on the condition and/or treatment of your own child.

Even if your young adults are already off to college or out on their own, make it a point to set the necessary safeguards to help ensure they have their protections in place. Plan ahead and consult your professional advisors. We offer Young Adult workshops to help them to create these valuable documents. Get on our mailing list for the next event. If you have any questions on how we can help you and yours, contact Terri Hilliard PC at 805-201-2552 or e-mail administrator@terrihilliard.com.