By: Todd Hall
This is an exciting time for parents with children headed off to their first year of college. Over the past 18 months or so, you have been planning for this transition, and it may be hard to believe that freshman orientation will be starting soon. Hopefully you have had time to have a meaningful conversation with your son or daughter about what it means to be 18 years old and living away from home for the first time.
In the midst of all the change, many parents and young adults preparing for college may not be aware of how their changing legal status will impact them in a variety of ways. For that reason, we encourage parents who have college-bound children to think about estate planning for their young adults. Estate planning for this age group is easy to overlook, however, having certain documentation in place is highly recommended.
Specifically, we recommend that all parents living in Georgia who have children over the age of 18 should ask their children to sign the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care form. This statutory form enables a child to name a parent or another trusted individual as a health care agent, and it authorizes health care providers to share medical information with the named agent.
Why this is important: Once children reach the age of majority (which is 18 in Georgia and most other states), they are legally considered adults. As adults, privacy laws generally protect their medical information. We hope you don’t ever need to use it, but in the unfortunate scenario where a child experiences a medical emergency, this document helps avoid any challenges in obtaining information about your child’s medical condition or making decisions on his or her behalf. Additional information, including the form itself and some helpful instructions can be found here: https://aging.georgia.gov/.
Once completed, you should give a copy of this form to people who might need it, such as your health care agent, your family, and your physician. Keep a copy of this completed form at home in a place where it can easily be found if it is needed. Many clients also ask their HB client service team to keep a copy in our files.
If you have children who live in other states, we recommend signing both the Georgia form and the appropriate form for the other state. If you sign more than one form, please be sure to name the same health care agent and backup agent on both. You can find links to forms from other states at this website: https://www.nhpco.org/patients-and-caregivers/advance-care-planning/advance-directives/downloading-your-states-advance-directive/