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Does Your College Checklist Include Planning For Emergencies? Here’s Why It Should, And How We Can Help.

  • By: Solutions Law Group LLC
  • Published: July 23, 2018
Does your college checklist include planning for emergencies? Here's why it should, and how we can help.

If you’ve got a child entering college, whether for the first time or not, chances are at least some of your summer is spent preparing your checklist of things to send them off with. It’s often a hectic time, and it can be an emotional one as well. Making sure that checklist is comprehensive is key – and that includes planning for emergencies. If your child has turned 18, or will do so while away, you’ll want to have a Healthcare Proxy and a Durable Power of Attorney in place. Doing so can make all the difference in the world in an emergency. Don’t have those documents yet? Don’t worry. Solutions Law Group LLC can take care of that for you – and we’re offering a super-summer-savings.

While an 18-year-old may still be on their parent’s insurance plan, and may also still be financially dependent on their parents – in the eyes of the law – he or she is an adult. That changes things for parents whose children end up in emergency situations. Without proper documentation in place, doctors and hospitals cannot legally provide information about a patient over 18-years of age to anyone – not even a parent. You can thank the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act of 1996 (HIPAA) for that – and the privacy provision passed in 2000 and enacted in 2003. Planning and having the proper legal permissions in place truly is the difference between having the rights to both information and decision-making power if your adult child cannot do so his or herself. That truly could make all of the difference in the world.

Prior to the enactment of HIPAA, one of our employees here at Solutions Law Group LLC, was in a serious car accident during her first year of college. She was 19-years-old and living in Florida at the time; her parents were still back in Massachusetts. After spending a couple of days in the hospital under observation for what was initially thought only to be a serious concussion and other more minor injuries, things took a turn for the worse. Medicated with morphine pending imaging scheduled for the next morning, she was in and out of consciousness and not able to communicate or advocate for herself effectively. Her mom, whom she called just before the morphine took effect, took over. Mom was in near hourly contact with the nurses’ station on her daughter’s floor – asking about and recording vital signs, blood test results and the like – but having no success reaching a doctor until the next morning. When a doctor did call back, he told Mom what the latest test results he had were, and that he would likely perform surgery later that day. As it turns out, the test results Mom had were more recent than the doctor’s. The doctor confirmed the new information, and performed emergency-life-saving-surgery. The same scenario today could, and likely would, have very different results.

While a medical provider might speak to the parents of an adult child during a medical emergency – they are legally prohibited from doing so without prior authorization from the patient. In fact, they are not supposed to give out any information. If the patient is conscious and competent, that authorization can be given verbally. If not, it must be in writing. The document that gets that done here in Massachusetts is called a Healthcare Proxy (See Attorney Dowling’s piece for more on Healthcare Proxy Guidelines). In many other states it is known as a Medical Power of Attorney.

If the patient is incapacitated, whether temporarily or permanently, they’ll likely need someone who is able to handle their financial matters as well. That’s where the Durable Power of Attorney comes in. This document will allow the person appointed with the power of attorney to handle legal and financial matters for the incapacitated person. That includes writing rent & utility checks, submitting financial aid documents or making bank deposits or withdrawals- important things that may come up and need to be handled in a timely fashion. Give us a call to schedule your signing today at (617) 924-0300!

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