Adding Power to Your College Checklist

Will You Be Notified?

Starting college or moving out of a parent’s house is a new beginning in any child’s life, and many parents struggle with being shut out of their children’s personal and medical decisions when their child turns eighteen. Furthermore, under federal law, and particularly the protections afforded to individuals under HIPAA, without a properly executed Power of Attorney for Health Care, hospitals and medical professionals cannot contact parents or siblings of someone involved in an accident or medical crisis to notify them of the incident. Moreover, without having been appointed as Agent under a Power of Attorney for Health Care, parents or other family members are not automatically included in decisions related to a patient’s treatment.

In essence, for children heading off to college or who have made the decision to venture out on their own, this means that when they (the “Principal”) don’t document their wishes about the kinds of medical treatment they want and don’t specify a trusted individual to follow those instructions, these decisions default to certain family members under Illinois law when the Principal becomes incapacitated. This means that important medical and health care decisions can be placed in the hands of estranged family members who know very little about the Principal.

Out-of-State Students

For children who move out of state, executing a Power of Attorney for Health Care is especially critical, as states’ laws on when family members are notified, and which family members are default decision makers, can vary. Moreover, a Power of Attorney for Health Care executed in Illinois will be accepted in other states so long as it meets the requirements of formation under Illinois law.

In the worst-case scenario, family members or individuals may disagree about the decisions to make on the Principal’s behalf, and may wind up in court, arguing in front of a judge about whom should be appointed as Agent. This process is stressful, time consuming, and expensive.

How Do I Get One?

A Power of Attorney for Health Care is easy to execute, can allow your child to retain personal autonomy over important medical decisions until he or she becomes incapacitated, and aids in preventing disputes between family members that may lead to contentious litigation. Having your child execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care before taking his or next step can offer both of you much needed peace of mind.

This document is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance.

If you need assistance with a related matter, contact us.