If you’re the parent of a college student or other young adult, part of you likely still considers them your little girl or boy. However, under the law, once they’re 18, there are certain rights you no longer automatically have because you’re their parent.
For example, you can’t make medical decisions for them. That means that if your child crashes on the ski slopes during winter break and ends up unconscious in the hospital, you aren’t entitled to make decisions regarding their treatment or perhaps even have access to information about that treatment unless you have the proper documentation in place.
In Arizona, that document is called a Health Care Power of Attorney (POA). It gives someone the right to make health care decisions for another person if that person is unable to speak for themselves. Without that document in place, parents may have to go to court to get the authority to be involved in their child’s medical care.
Many people consider POAs something that you include in your estate plan or get for an aging family member. However, approximately 250,000 young adults between 18 and 25 end up in the hospital in this country every year due to injuries.
Another document that it’s wise to have for your child when they turn 18 is a Financial Power of Attorney, as it’s called in Arizona. It allows the person with this power to manage the finances of someone if they’re unable to do so themselves. For example, if your child is hospitalized for weeks, you’d have the ability to pay their bills and keep up with other financial obligations.
It would be understandable for a college student to balk at giving authority involving finances to their parents so soon after gaining some measure of independence or allow them to poke around in their medical records. You can designate that the POAs can only be activated if your child is injured or ill and unable to care for themselves.
If your relationship with your child is strained, and they don’t want you having these POAs under any circumstances, you may suggest they give them to another trusted adult family member. The important thing is that your child is taken care of should the need arise.
Your Arizona family law can answer any questions that you or your child may have about these documents and help you put them in place.