It’s back to school time and college kids are getting inundated with things to do before they head off to campus. There are travel plans to be made. Have you packed everything you need for the school year? Said goodbye to your friends? Is there anything else you forgot to do?
For years, I’ve been recommending to my clients that if they have children heading off to college, it’s a good idea to have a healthcare power of attorney for them. It’s not as complex as a full estate plan, but especially with all the things that can happen while they are off at college, it’s a good document to have.
What Is A Healthcare Power Of Attorney?
A Healthcare Power of Attorney spells out your instructions and preferences for your medical care in case you become incapacitated. In it, you choose a person (or persons) to make decisions if you are incapacitated, including end of life decisions. If you’d also like to explain more of your wishes, you may want to consider a living will. A common question I get is,
Why Does a College Student Need One?
Simply, life is unpredictable. There is no guarantee of what tomorrow holds. It is a hard topic to think about, but one that you need to think about. While it may be scary to think of, not having the document can be scarier.
There’s a good chance you are going to college away from your childhood home. It could be a few towns away from home, it could be across the country. But if you are in an accident and can’t speak, who will speak for you? You may think that the doctor will automatically speak to the right person, but will they? How would the doctor know to contact your parents? And if your parents are separated, which parent should they be speaking to?
From a practical standpoint, without a plan, the hospital may use costly medical treatments that you would not have wanted. You could end up graduating from college under a mountain of medical debt to go along with your student loans.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Many states provide basic forms for you to fill in. The big concern with any form, of course, is that a form can’t tell you if you’ve filled it out correctly. Even more concerning is paying for a form and then not filling it out correctly. A local lawyer can assist you with putting together the right documents you need before heading to campus. It should not be an expensive or long process, but it’s an important one to check off your to-do list before you leave for the fall.