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College Students and Medical Emergencies

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In many families just because a child is an adult and is going to college does not mean the child is independent. The parents still pay for everything. The child can still be on the parents’ health insurance or the parent might still pay the premiums if the child has different medical insurance through the university, for example.

What many parents do not know is that paying those and other similar costs does not actually give them any legal rights to medical information about the child or to make decisions in emergencies as the Yuma Sun discusses in “Estate Planning: Helping your college-age child in a medical emergency.”

Once a person turns 18 and becomes a legal adult, they become just like every other adult. No one can have access to their private medical information or make medical decisions for them unless the person says so. This is even true of parents in an emergency. Not understanding this has led to many families having problems.

Fortunately, the way around this problem is relatively easy if you plan ahead. Talk to your child before he or she goes to college about having an estate planning attorney draw up a health care power of attorney. That will allow the parent, or anyone else the child chooses, to have access to medical information and decision making authority should something happen and the child not be able to express his or her wishes.

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