College Supplies in Check: What about Critical Documents?

By Emily Kirtley Hanna, Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc

When preparing to send a child over the age of 18 off to college or into the workforce, parents often overlook the need to ensure certain estate planning documents are in place. If the young adult were to get ill while at school or get injured on the job, parents are no longer provided with legal authority, as a natural guardian, and may not have the ability to speak with medical professionals or make decisions on their behalf, without the proper authorisations in place.

The restriction against disclosing details on the young adult’s medical care is a result of the privacy protections mandated by HIPAA, which prevents medical professionals from discussing information with anyone other than the patient, including parents.

A Health Care Power of Attorney is used to name the person(s) who have authority to make medical decisions, if the individual is unable. It can also be used to provide the incapacitated person with the care that he/she would have wanted or needs. It should also contain a health proxy, which allows the named parent access to medical records.

Without this, parents may face obstacles to determine whether their child has even been admitted to the hospital. Obstacles may eventually be overcome, but in a matter of emergency, time is often of the essence.

Estate planning may not be on top of a college-bound child’s “to-do” list, but it should be for a parent. Taking simple measures to ensure the proper documentation is in place, could help avoid complex issues in the future.

Emily Kirtley Hanna

Emily Kirtley Hanna

Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc, Crestview Hills, KY, Cincinnati, OH,
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Emily Kirtley Hanna is a partner with Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc, DBL Law, and practices primarily in the firm’s litigation group, with an emphasis in estate and trust, commercial, as well as debtor/creditor’s rights.

Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc is a full-service law firm with offices in Cincinnati, Ohio; Crestview Hills, Kentucky; and Louisville, Kentucky. Recognized as a “Best Law Firm” for the fifth consecutive year by US News & World Report - Best Lawyers® 2015 Best Law Firms rankings, DBL Law provides a high level of valuable legal services to companies, institutions and individuals.

Published: October 2015 l Photo: Natalia Bratslavsky -

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