Commentary-Back to College-Print



Your 18-year-old daughter was knocked unconscious at an intramural soccer game at State U. The ambulance takes her to the local campus Emergency Room where she cannot answer any questions at this point. You get a text from her friends that your daughter is “hurt,” so you call the hospital to see what’s going on. The switchboard operator gets you to the ER attendant, who promptly tells you they can’t acknowledge anyone’s admittance much less disclose anyone’s condition due to privacy laws. Decisions about your daughter’s immediate care are now going to be made without you in a city hundreds of miles away. What could you have done better before this event occurred? Bruce Talen, general counsel at Commerce Trust Company, gives you some practical steps in avoiding the scenario above. Q. WHAT STEPS COULD PARENTS AND STUDENTS TAKE TO AVOID A MEDICAL EMERGENCY LIKE THIS? A. A big percentage of parents and students miss the opportunity to establish a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive. Most people don’t automatically think of the concept as applicable for younger people as they might for themselves or for an older adult. People tend to overlook its benefits for a college student, even though the student has turned 18 and is now an adult. Q. DON’T I NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR THE PAPERWORK? A. You can download the basic form off the state bar association of any state and complete the form yourself. While it’s best to have an experienced attorney-at-law to consult with in these matters, especially for other estate planning documents, you don’t need a lawyer to put this form into effect. Q. WHAT ABOUT A HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE? A. That’s generally part of the same form. Here the child can specify his or her wishes in advance about life- prolonging procedures if found to be persistently unconscious or at the end-stage of a serious incapacitating or terminal illness. This document also provides guidance and support to your Health Care Power of Attorney agent in case of emergency. Q. MY CHILD IS SPENDING SOME OF THE SEMESTER IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY – ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS THERE FOR SCHOOL-SPONSORED TRAVEL? A. Make sure your child has health insurance in force. If they are covered under your employer’s health care plan, verify the school has the waiver you submitted to the institution earlier in the semester on file. You may want to call your insurance provider to make sure the health care insurance is in force in other countries. Back to College: Did Your College Student Sign a Health Care Power of Attorney? By Bruce Talen

Wealth | Investments | Planning Commerce Trust Company

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