You just unloaded a chair made from bungee cords and a hot pink, fuzzy footstool from what seems like your millionth trip to Target. You have a highly-strung high school graduate rooting through a pile of Sharpie markers, notebooks, phone cases, and packages of Ramen noodles. You’re staring at the roommate notification that arrived today, crossing your fingers your college-bound offspring isn’t bunking with someone who bites their toe nails at 3 a.m.

The last thing on your mind right now is creating a Health Care Directive for your child, who, from all indications, is perfectly healthy, vibrant, and responsible. You have inspected the dorm, interviewed the Resident Assistant staff, and taped the number of Security to the back of your child’s iPod. As a parent, you have created the best possible bubble for them to experience adulthood for the first time.

Becoming an adult does not happen overnight, although it may feel like it the day you drive away from that college campus. It’s a process begun in the teenage years and one likely to continue long after the magical age of 18 when they become legally responsible for their own actions. Consider, however, that as a legal adult, federal privacy laws can prevent you, the parent, from receiving information about your child or being able to act when he or she needs you.

Worst case scenario, this means you could find yourself a helpless bystander if your daughter is injured in a serious accident.  You may be unable to access information about her condition and you will be unable to make decisions about her care.  You may find yourself in a costly court proceeding for guardianship just to get the legal authority to care for your child.  A more common situation may be the red tape you will encounter when your son asks for your help in getting immunization records sent to college before classes start or for you to handle some of his banking.

Without a Health Care Directive, HIPAA Authorization, and Financial Power of Attorney in place, you could be prevented from doing what comes naturally – taking care of your child when he or she needs you the most.  It is essential for every adult (age 18 and up) to have these 3 legal documents.

The Health Care Directive allows your child to appoint someone they trust as Health Care Agent to make decisions on their behalf should an accident or serious illness prevent them from speaking for themselves.  Invaluable in a medical crisis, this Directive will provide authority and guidance for loved ones and care providers.  It may eliminate the need for a court guardianship proceeding if your child becomes incapacitated or is left in a vegetative state. All adults can benefit from a Health Care Directive, but young adults should ideally name their parents as agents shortly after their 18th birthday.

At Lewis Kannegieter Law, Ltd., we understand how important it is to be legally prepared and can work with your busy schedule.  We offer a variety of Parents’ Peace of Mind Planning Packages to protect your child and give you peace of mind during this transition time.  I can help your child understand the legal implications of becoming an adult and work with your child to provide instructions for the type of care he or she would want.

Before your baby takes that bungee chair and heads off into the world, make sure they get these critically important documents in place. It doesn’t take much time. It doesn’t take a lot of money. It could make a world of difference.  You have thought of everything else, now schedule your Parent Sanity Protection Consultation and feel good knowing when that final wave comes, you’re really still right there.