“But I’m just a college student!” If you are, read this.

Attention College Students!  My daughters are both grown, married and starting their families, but when they left home for college, I sniffled and hugged and made sure they had bank accounts and laptops and cell phones.  They knew they could call home anytime (one did, one didn’t), and that if they had a financial issue, their mom and I would help them with it.  That’s what parents do, right?

It was only after having had the daughter of dear friends involved in an auto accident with multiple fatalities, and the daughter of a client killed in a car wreck (neither one was driving and there was no alcohol involved) that I realized we had failed to have them do one thing that would be critical in the event they were seriously injured: we didn’t ask them to make a medical power of attorney (MPOA).

See, once you’re 18 years old, you’re an adult in the eyes of the medical world.  That means your doctor/hospital/pharmacist can’t share your information with your parents or let them be involved in your treatment.

“Good!”, I hear you say.  “None of their business if I’m on the pill or getting prescription meds.”

No (well, not much) argument here; however, it also means that unless you give your parents authorization ahead of time to make treatment decisions for you in the event you’re not able to, or let them have access to your medical records when necessary, they will have to jump through a bunch of hoops before they can help you when you’re unconscious and in the hospital.  And when you need  an MPOA, it’s too late to get one.

Do yourself and your family a favor: get a medical power of attorney before you go (or go back) to school this fall.  You can find the form online (I wouldn’t recommend this option, but it’s available).  Better yet, talk to your parents about going to an estate planning attorney to have one prepared.  A good estate planning lawyer doesn’t just do wills (which also wouldn’t be a bad idea): he or she will explain your choices and give you (and your parents) peace of mind that if something bad happens, you (and they) are prepared.

As always, the above is legal information, not legal advice, and it’s based on Texas law because I’m a Texas lawyer.

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