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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

The College Student Parent Survival Guide

August 12, 2020

As soon as your child has their 18th birthday, they are legally seen as an adult in the state of California. 

This change in legal status results in a large shift as to what you can and cannot do as a parent. 

We know that losing certain rights and duties towards your child can be quite difficult. For a lot of parents, it might even seem impossible. To help you prepare for the oncoming changes, we have put together this survival guide to help address any concerns you may have.

Your Rights and Duties as a Parent

The California Family Code puts certain rights and duties upon you as a parent. You have to perform these duties in order to secure the safety and well being of your child. 

Your duties:

  • You have a duty of custody and control over your child - which means that you get the final say in where they live, their educational decisions, and their healthcare decisions
  • You have a duty to make sure your child’s basic needs are satisfied 

Your rights:

  • You have a right to the services and earnings of your child
  • You have the right to represent your child in any legal action
  • You have the right to make decisions of legal significance for your child
  • You have the right to inherit from your child

We know you may still think of yourself as your child’s protector or advisor, even after they have turned 18, but unfortunately, your rights and your duties are revoked as soon as your child becomes a legal adult. 

When your child turns 18, it is no longer your duty or right to:

  • Pay bills that are in your child’s name
  • Consent to medical treatments or procedures on their behalf
  • Have access to their medical records 
  • Have access to their educational information 
  • Accept money on their behalf 

You have as much right to obtain medical information of a complete stranger as you do to your own child. Unfortunately, that’s just the way the law works - but there are procedures you can put in place to help you be prepared for the worst. 

Will you be able to get medical information about your adult child in a medical emergency?

Roadside accidents are the leading cause of death in young adults. Road traffic accidents are often fatal - but even when they are not, they can lead to serious injuries requiring immediate medical care. 

As a parent, it can be terrifying to think of losing your child at such a young age. The thought of not being able to check in on them or have access to their medical information is awful. 

This is why it is essential to make sure you have everything prepared for when your child turns 18 to still look after them if they need it. 

If you do not have the right legal documents prepared, you will not have any authority in an emergency situation and the medical professionals’ hands will be tied. 

Stay Away From ‘Do it Yourself’ Internet Documents

It is not a bad idea to do research into what documents need to be filled out in order to secure the well being of your child - but finding ‘do it yourself’ documents or automatic generators online is a mistake. 

College Student Parent Survival Guide | The Chubb Law Firm

There are no shortcuts to filling out the right legal documents.

Legal documents need to be legible and have all the correct information filled in, so in the case of a medical emergency you will be fully informed and able to make any important decisions. 

Most importantly, the legal documents must be executed - signed - properly to be valid and enforceable. Some documents require witnesses while others must be notarized. A mistake in the execution has the same result as not having any documents at all.

Instead of looking for documents online, enlist the help of an attorney so they can go through everything you might need to know.

Be sure to go through each document needed with your attorney to ensure your child will be protected even when they turn 18.

What documents should you have prepared?

There are two types of documents you want to have prepared to make sure you can look after your child if anything happens to them.

Living documents

Financial documents: 

  • Statutory Durable Power of Attorney (POA)

Healthcare documents:

  • Advanced Healthcare Directive (Medical Power of Attorney)
  • HIPAA Release Form
  • Nomination of Conservator in case of incapacitation

Death documents

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of their child passing away. The thought of losing a child is an awful thing to imagine —but you should be prepared with the appropriate documents.

Here are the following documents you should make sure to have organized before your child turns 18: 

  • Designation of Representative for Disposition of Remains
  • Anatomical Gift
  • Last Will & Testament 

We also have created a thoughtful College Student Parent Survival Checklist you can download to be more prepared when your child(ren) go away to school.

The College Student Legal Directives Program

What it includes:

  • A card to keep in your child’s wallet while they are a college student. It highlights all their emergency contact information and gives them 24/7 emergency access to their healthcare directives. 
  • Immediate notifications to your email every time your child’s healthcare directives are requested. 
  • Storage for your child’s emergency contacts, health insurance information, and healthcare directives. 
  • Clear alerts that notify healthcare professionals of any allergies or medical conditions your student has.

You can find out more information about the College Student Legal Directives Program and sign up for it here

The Impact of COVID-19 on Your Child’s Safety at College

College Student Parent Survival Guide | The Chubb Law Firm

The novel coronavirus has added a new level of worry to the lives of parents, especially with a new semester on the horizon and the possibility of your child being on campus. The virus has impacted countless lives across the world and exposing your child to the dangers of the virus can be stressful. 

To make sure that you are prepared if your child contracts the virus, organize the appropriate documents in advance.

Remembering everything that you need to do to ensure that your child is safe and secure when they reach adulthood is difficult. You might feel as though they are still your baby, but in the eyes of the law, they are an adult. 

To ease any unsettling feelings, we have created a College Student Parent Survival Checklist to aid in your preparation. Download it now.

Do you need the help of an attorney? Schedule a Discovery Meeting with us by calling (916) 241-9661 to review your goals and discuss your options.

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A wonderful job! After watching my family deal with litigation after a death, this is so important for everyone, young and old.

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