High school graduation season is upon us, and so is your chance to make a difference.
18 is the magical age where a parent’s legal authority vanishes. The parents no longer have unfettered access to the 18 -year- old child’s medical, educational and financial records. What they lose, their 18- year- old picks up – he or she now has the unencumbered right to enter into stupid contracts, blow through an inheritance, drop out of school, and impulsively donate body parts.
Here is where you, with the wisdom of age, come in. You can gift that newly minted 18-year-old graduate real-world documents that will have the immediate impact of giving everyone a safety net.
Let’s look at them one by one:
If you really want to give the new grad a reality check, schedule him or her an appointment with a lawyer to talk about estate planning. There is something about signing an 8-page will in a law office before two witnesses and a notary that will make every 18-year-old stop and think, if only for a moment. As any parent of a teenager will tell you, that is not a bad thing.
So the teen gets into a car wreck and the parents rush to the ER, only to be told that the hospital will not release information to them because the teen is an “adult.” What a nightmare. This can be avoided if the parents have a HIPAA Release, signed by the teen, that gives them access to the teen’s medical records.
If the teen is incapacitated (unconscious, in a coma, under anesthesia, etc.), then someone needs to make the medical decisions. The Medical Power of Attorney allows the teen to appoint an agent to make that decision. This is especially helpful if the teen is in another state attending college and the parents are not close by.
This document rounds out the triumvirate of medical authorizations. It is an important document because, unfortunately, bad things can happen to young people. Terry Schiavo, whose medical situation led to most states passing a law authorizing a Directive to Physicians, was only 26 when she first fell into a coma. There was a huge controversy over removal of her feeding tube. The Directive to Physicians will allow the teen to decide, in writing, if he or she wants to have life prolonged by artificial means in the event of a terminal illness with only 6 months to live, or an irreversible condition that will eventually lead to death. If nothing else, reading through the document will give an 18-year-old a different perspective on life and death.
This documents gives the teen the chance to make an adult choice with real world consequences to others.
These documents offer so much to a new grad – a learning experience, an emergency plan, an acknowledgement of a new milestone. Now that is a meaningful gift.
The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice. ©2018