This is the time of year when we want to prepare our students to be in the best position possible to be successful. We sign the emergency contact sheets for the school nurse as well as the medication listings and any other emergency information to the schools.
Well this is a good time to look at the emergency actions for the home in regards to your children as well. Of course, whenever we leave our children with a babysitter, we should leave behind a list of all of the telephone numbers of the emergency contacts that would be helpful in any imaginable situation.
In making sure that our children are safe we should anticipate what would be needed if something were to happen to us. Immediately, if there was a tragedy, would the legal supports be in place. If there was a tragedy, what resources would be available for the immediate care taking of your children? Is there a plan with legal capacity in place to support the transfer of guardianship for your children or would it be necessary to employ the social service system until one is put in place. Are the financial resources accessible to caregivers that would support your children during a gap that could be your incapacity or accessing your estate through probate.
If there are people depending on your assets for supporting everyday life, you should be mindful of the burden that would be transferred to any caregiver. We know that we often have family members who have the emotional desire to be supportive, yet we also know that caring for children is an expensive reality. Is there a Power of Attorney in place to fulfill that need during a prolonged period of incapacity? Is there a Trust in place in case of death that will meet the needs with a gap?
College Aged Children
I experienced this reality when my daughter went away to college. I had been informed by a friend that I needed to have my children sign a FERPA waiver. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act does not allow a parent information about his/her child without express permission. We took care of that immediately upon enrollment. However, my daughter moved off campus. One day, I received a message that she had been in an accident and was taken to the hospital! Much to my chagrin, the hospital informed me that due to the HIPAA –the privacy of the patient is foremost! With this in mind we are thankful that this staff person appreciated my distress and gave me the information that I needed. Yet, know that will not always be the case.
I advise people that with the graduation of high school and the coming of age of majority, this is the time for the first estate plan. The plan should include a durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, HIPAA waiver and a basic will. Most times we will never need them, but it is better to not need it and to have it than to not have it and to need it.
Washington Informer Article – September 2014
Photo Credit: laddersedu.com