Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with family and friends, but it’s also an opportunity…
I have a client who several years ago got one of those phone calls no parent ever wants to get.
Her daughter, Susie, was a freshman at a college in upstate New York after having graduated in the top 10% of her class of her high school on Long Island, where she grew up and where her parents lived.
A few months into her first year away at college, where she was doing very well and had made several new friends, one of Susie’s friends called her parents to let them know that Susie was in a pretty bad car accident. The friend told them that Susie was in the hospital but she wasn’t sure how she was doing.
The parents, incredibly shaken by the news, called the hospital (which was some 6 hours away) to inquire about Susie. However, Susie was 19 years old, and in the eyes of the law was an adult who has to give permission to speak to others about her care or other medically related needs. Unfortunately, Susie had not given such consent previously not was she able to do so at that time. Susie did not have a HEALTH CARE PROXY!
Of course, she didn’t have a health care proxy. Why would a 19-year-old, perfectly healthy young woman, need a health care proxy?
Well, this is story explains one reason why everyone age 18 and older should have a health care proxy. The proxy is a legal document where you can name someone to make health care decisions for you, including getting medical records and information, if you become unable to make such decisions for yourself. You can (and should, if possible) also name an alternate agent in the event your primary agent is unable or unwilling to make those decisions for you.
As soon as possible after your child turns 18 (and is no longer considered a “child”), you should ask them to execute a Health Care Proxy. Whether they are going away to school or staying at or near home, there really is no reason to not have such an important document.