Are your children going back to college? Good for them. This is the time for them to grow in their education, independence, and maturity. Time for them to learn to take care of themselves. Do they need a Patient Advocate Designation?

Remember, that if they are 18 years or older, they are – under the law – full adults. This means you no longer have any legal authority to act for them, or even to get private information about them without their permission. This can come as a stunning revelation, because you have been there for them all their life. But that was before they turned 18. If they, as an adult, should suffer an accident or illness that prevents them from giving that permission, what will happen? What will you do if a doctor tells you,” I cannot tell you his [or her] condition because that’s private information.”?

As the saying goes, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” However unlikely it is that your child will suffer a severe accident or illness, you don’t want to be in a position of needing to get court permission to obtain medical information about him or her. You should ask your son or daughter to sign at least a Patient Advocate Designation, allowing you to get medical information about them, and to make medical decisions for them if they are unable. They should also consider naming you as their Agent under a Power of Attorney, so you can sign legal or financial papers on their behalf.

See one of our estate planning attorneys to discuss how to “prepare for the worst.”