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3 Legal Documents Every Graduating Senior Needs

Posted by Chris Peterson | Jun 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

Do you have a senior graduating from high school this year?  Before your son or daughter packs up for a summer internship, a vacation, or even their first semester of college, our College Station will lawyers want you to think about what it means having a child who is now an “adult” in the eyes of the law.

Essentially from a legal standpoint, it means you will now need written permission to make important medical or financial decisions on his or her behalf.  For example, if your daughter is having a problem registering for fall classes because she is missing medical records, you can no longer just reach out to her doctor and access them without explicit permission.

Worse, if your child is injured in an accident or became ill hundreds of miles away from home, you may be barred from making decisions or getting information about his or her care.

To avoid this nightmare scenario, estate planning lawyers encourage parents of graduating seniors to take some time this summer and create 3 simple documents with their young adult child.  They are:

  1. Advance Health Care Directive- This document allows a young adult to appoint someone they trust (the parent) to be their healthcare agent who would have the right to speak for them in a medical emergency.  It also specifies the type of care or life support the individual would want should they become incapacitated or left in a permanent vegetative state.
  1. Financial Power of Attorney- Having a financial power of attorney is necessary to give someone (preferably the parents) permission to access any bank accounts and act financially on the adult child's behalf if an emergency occurs. Such activities covered under the power of attorney include paying bills, buying or selling assets, applying for benefits, and the opening and closing of accounts.
  2. Signed HIPAA Form- Parents should have their adult child pre-sign a HIPAA form to ensure they can immediately communicate with physicians and access important medical records.

Finally, for added protection, our College Station will lawyers also recommend creating an ICE Card (In Case Of Emergency) to be kept in the child's wallet listing the names of all approved emergency contacts, health insurance information, and all known allergies. 

On other thing to think about is a FERPA release. Many parents don't realize that you can't just access your adult child's education records. In order to do so, you need a specific signed release allowing you access.

Remember, it's a natural instinct to want to jump in and help your child in an emergency.  Yet without these documents in place, you could be a helpless spectator of your child's care if he or she is unable to communicate. If you need help creating these legal documents before summer officially begins, please reach out to our law firm at (979) 703-7014 to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson is the owner of Peterson Law Group. He practices primarily in the areas of wills, trusts and estate planning; probate and trust administration; elder law; and business law. Chris is also the owner of Brazos 1031 Exchange Company.


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