This is the next post in a series of articles discussing powers of attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. Our previous article focused on advanced healthcare directives, also known as living wills and medical powers of attorney. Establishing instructions for your physicians and family members related to your end-of-life medical treatment can relieve your loved ones from the burden of making emotional medical decisions. Selecting a trustworthy person to carry out your wishes can give you peace of mind that your healthcare affairs will be handled in accordance with your preferences. It is important to consult with an attorney regarding the proper execution of such documents. This post will focus on an often overlooked segment of the population who may benefit from creating powers of attorney – college students. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
When we think about durable powers of attorney and advanced healthcare directives, we often consider them in the context of estate planning or to help aging parents or loved ones with financial or medical decisions. These documents can be equally helpful to parents and guardians of children over the age of 18. Once a child reaches the age of majority, a parent’s ability to act on their behalf largely stops. This can be problematic, particularly if the child is away at college and the parent needs to handle a legal or financial matter on the child’s behalf from home. If the student grants their parent a durable power of attorney, the parent will have the authority to take action under the circumstances outlined in the document. For instance, if the child attends a study abroad program in Oxford, the parent/agent will have the ability to manage bank accounts, pay bills, file taxes and take legal action on the student’s behalf. This could also apply if the student becomes ill or injured and unable to handle these type of affairs without assistance.
In addition to the durable power of attorney, parents should strongly consider becoming their child’s representative for purposes of making healthcare decisions. A young adult may not have strong opinions about whether or not a living will is necessary, but naming a parent as representative in an advanced medical directive can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Once over the age of 18, healthcare providers are bound by HIPAA, which prohibits them from sharing protected health information with third parties, including a person’s parents. One can imagine a scenario where a child is in an accident or becomes seriously ill at school and is unable to communicate the medical situation to their parents. Absent a medical power of attorney, which should include a HIPAA release provision, physicians and hospitals may not be able to share information about the prognosis or medical condition. Furthermore, should the injuries be serious enough that the child is incapacitated, the advanced directive would give the representative the ability to coordinate treatment decisions with the medical professionals.
If you have questions about which powers of attorney are appropriate for your family, contact our office to speak with an attorney today. Our firm has over 50 years of experience in estate administration, including advising clients about powers of attorney, in Hartford, Connecticut. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.