With the midpoint of summer fast approaching, many Michigan parents are preparing to send their children off to college. Whether this is the first semester or the last, parents have many things to worry about besides grades. The college years are an adjustment period for the entire family as children grow into adults and take responsibility for their own lives. However, many parents do not realize that legally, that responsibility begins at age 18. Without certain estate planning documents in place, parents may have a difficult time stepping in when their child has an emergency.

In most states, the law considers the age of 18 to be the time when someone has the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. These rights include the right to privacy, which means that parents may no longer have the authority to make medical decisions for their college student if he or she becomes ill or injured and unable to speak. In fact, in some cases, without a court order, the parents may be unable to obtain any information about their child’s medical condition.

This is only one scenario that prompts many parents to assist their college-bound children in obtaining documents that will not only allow parents access to medical records but will also authorize them to take action in their child’s name. College students can name their parents as their health care proxy, sign a HIPAA release form and even create a living will to protect themselves when an emergency situation calls for quick and decisive action. A durable power of attorney can also allow parents to manage a student’s financial affairs if he or she is unable to.

It may seem overwhelming to think about such events befalling a child who goes off to college. Realistically, however, these things happen too often to leave one’s child unprotected. A Michigan attorney can assist parents and their children in determining the most appropriate estate planning documents to execute for this phase of life.