Turning 18 comes with plenty to look forward to, such as preparing for the adventures of the college years as high school winds down, as well as figuring out which career to prepare for so that you can do what you love for a living. However, this point in our lives comes with even more responsibility, some of which relies on the documents we sign.
Our well-being is more in our hands at this age, and it’s important to allow a parent or other guardian to be able to make decisions if you’re in a situation where you can’t do so yourself. If not, medical providers will not be able to give your loved ones the documentation needed to help you recover. Here are three documents all 18-year-old need to sign before their next birthday.
Medical power of attorney/health care proxy
One way you can appoint the right individual to make medical decisions on your behalf is with a medical power of attorney or health care proxy. Such situations where you wouldn’t be able to do so yourself include if you were in a coma or vegetative state. Or you might also have been the victim of a car accident that could leave a part of your body in a state that may or may not have to be amputated, but you are not conscious to make the decision yourself. The POA may come in the form of a legal will that determines that the victim doesn’t want to be kept alive by life-sustaining measures if in a vegetative state or wishes for a shattered arm or leg to be amputated if not doing so would put the person’s overall health at risk.
It’s best for you and your parents to discuss such scenarios with a professional such as a Super Woman Super Lawyer who knows how to handle POAs and health care proxies to keep such decisions in your hands or those of your loved ones. This will especially if the college you end up attending is far away from home. If the school is in another state, it’s important to research the laws regarding these documents in different states.
Doctors are tasked with doing what is necessary to ensure the best for a patient’s well-being, and that includes providing medical information confidential to the right people. If decisions aren’t made ahead of time to make that data accessible to your parents or legal guardian, your doctor may decide to keep it out of their hands. However, this situation can be made easier with a signed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which allows you to assign someone as an “agent” who can receive medical information for a certain period of time or indefinitely. State laws are also important to know with how HIPAAs work, because violations can lead to jail time and other criminal penalties.
This act lets the student have control of not only how much information the agent will receive, but the type of information, as well. This comes in handy for students who are comfortable enough to make their parents aware of certain health issues but not enough to disclose the actual levels to worry them. You’ll also have the ability to disclose treatment options in case there is a disagreement that could get in the way of the right choice being made. As a result, HIPAAs allow you to maintain a level of privacy that doesn’t get in the way of your health.
Durable power of attorney
Some documents that are necessary for serious medical issues have limits on who can view them based on the state of the person, as well as where the student is attending college. You may end up in an accident that will limit who can have access to your medical documents based on if you are incapacitated, as well as if you are studying abroad. That’s where a durable power of attorney comes in, which gives your agent legal ownership of medical information even if you are incapacitated. They are able to make decisions regarding your car’s registration, manage financial accounts, file a tax return on your behalf, and take part of other business aspects.
Before you make an official decision with whom to grant access to a durable POA, you’ll need to be sure that your agent(s) is someone you can trust and puts your best interests first, whether they’re an immediate relative or not. This is because of the variety of business decisions that the agent will be able to make if you aren’t able to do so yourself. It also helps to have a trusted attorney who is aware of how the law works in your state with this option, as well as the law of other states if the college you attend is out of state.
Make sure to sign these three documents so that you can look forward to less stress and more responsibility after turning 18.