By Alina Gonzalez-Dockery, Esquire; Life Law Planning
August is here which brings the excitement of wrapping up the summer vacation and preparing our newly graduated high school students and college co-eds for their next big adventure…College. I love walking around Target, Marshall’s, and Home Goods and seeing the amazing decorating ideas for the college dorms and apartments. Wistfully thinking back to the weekend my mother and father moved me into my freshman dorm at the University of Florida. Ecstatic to be “living” on my own, meeting new friends, and nervous all at the same time. I also recall how nervous my mother was about leaving me behind in my new, unknown, environment. Wondering if a young girl, not yet 18 years of age, would be able to care for herself, make good decisions and do well in classes.
Walking around the stores, observing parents with their children checking off lists of what to get to prepare their new or returning co-ed to school, I wonder if the parents realize that as their newly graduated kids head off to college, and likely have or are turning 18 soon, they as the parents no longer have authority or permission to obtain health care information about their child, make health care decisions, or assist in financial matters? Financial matters you may ask…yes, they will be navigating tuition, boarding, financial aid, budgeting, etc…If your kids were anything like me as a young adult child, they may not be fully ready to handle these important and often confusing matters on their own. The worst case, and every parent’s nightmare situation, is that if their child is in an accident or has a medical emergency, and they are not informed or not permitted to obtain the medical information or make informed decisions on behalf of their child. What if an accident or illness made it impossible for your student to manage their financial affairs? No one likes to consider such grim possibilities, but the truth is that some families will face this kind of difficulty at some point.
This very scenario is the reason my office has created the College Kid Plan. The College Kid Plan puts into place BEFORE the child heads off to college so that the parents can obtain information and help where needed. A College Kid Plan should contain, at the minimum, a financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and HIPAA authorization. Though an awful “heavy” thought for any parent to consider, though a scenario brought to light by covid especially, a living will and final disposition documents.