Does My Child Really Need a Health Care Proxy?

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Yes! You’ve been making health care decisions for your child for years. But, now that your kids are old enough that the law recognizes them as independent adults (in most places once they’re 18) and entitled to make their own decisions.

Even though you may still financially support them and they are not really “independent” from you, the law views it differently.  Accordingly, you as a parent no longer have the legal right to make certain health care decisions for them. For your adult child to be fully protected, just like any other adult, they need a Health Care Proxy, also known as a Power of Attorney for Heath Care or Medical Power of Attorney. This legal document is an essential component of your adult child’s first estate plan.

As your child heads off to college, they may actually be required to have a Health Care Proxy as part of their school’s on-campus COVID preparations. Without one, in the event of an emergency, you may not be able to make decisions or discuss medical information with your children’s medical staff. 

Whether your adult children are going off to college or heading out on their own for the first time, make sure you can oversee their medical decisions instead of the courts in an emergency.

Read More: Getting Your Child Ready for College During COVID-19

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that your adult child completes to appoint someone to make health care decisions for them in the event they are unable to make or communicate those decisions for themselves. 

If your high school freshman, who is usually 14 or 15 years old, gets in a car accident, the doctors consult you as their parent. Health care providers can freely discuss injuries and proposed treatment; you are empowered under the law to make their health care decisions.  

However, when your child is a college student, usually 18 years old or older, under the law your child is now considered an adult able to make their own health care decisions. If you want to be authorized to make health care decisions for them, they need to complete a Health Care Proxy appointing you as their health care agent. Without that document, their doctors are prohibited from sharing their medical information with you; you are not empowered to make important medical decisions on their behalf. 

A Gentreo Health Care Proxy enables your adult child to appoint a health care agent and successor agents, specify their health care treatment choices, and address other health care decisions. It also includes a HIPAA authority release, which grants you, or whomever they appoint, to discuss medical information with their doctors. Without a Health Care Proxy, you could be forced to seek court intervention to be empowered to protect and advocate for your child. Instead of being by their bedside, you could end up working with lawyers to fight for something that would take only minutes to prevent.

How Else Can My Child Prepare to Go Back to School?

It is not enough to merely create a Health Care Proxy before you send your kids back to school. While it’s a critical piece of their estate plan, it’s only the first step. Just like you want to make sure that your adult child has health insurance or car insurance so they are protected, make sure they are legally protected. 

All capable adults over the age of 18 should have at a minimum:

Power of Attorney for Finances – which lets them appoint someone to control their finances

Emergency Card – which allows you and other important people to have instant access to critical medical information and emergency contacts

Digital Family Vault – which allows them to securely store and share documents and information that is easily accessible, anytime. Having all important information in one place makes it easy to move quickly in a crisis when time may be of the essence.

Gentreo is the first online estate planning tool that lets you create state-specific legal documents and store and share them with family and friends in the Gentreo Digital Family Vault. A Digital Family Vault securely stores important documents so that during a crisis, you and others who need them have instant access to them and other important information. Your adult child can invite you and other loved ones to join their Gentreo Team so you will be able to help if an emergency occurs. 

Gentreo lets you help your child quickly, easily, and affordably prepare the estate planning documents they need to let you continue to protect them as they grow. Preparing your adult child legally is critical anytime – but especially in the time of COVID. 

You taught your child to brush their teeth, ride a bike, drive a car. Now you are guiding them on an important part of being an independent adult—creating their first estate plan. It’s what you do to protect choices and loved ones. Just like you are there for them through everything, Gentreo will be there for you and them through all the changes in their life.

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