The Law Office of Jessica Swann Rymer


We do not usually have a high school or college student in mind when we are considering estate plans. However, for those of you who have a child in high school or college, who are considered under Texas law to be an adult – i.e., 18 years old and above….do you know that you do not have the authority to make his or her decisions anymore? One of the rights a person has after age 18 years, that he or she did not have before, is that he or she can obtain medical treatment without parental consent.

What would you do if you received that call tonight?

“Do you realize that, without the right planning, you may have to go to court to be able to take care of your child?”

Are you really ready for a costly and stressful court battle?

You really need a plan for how you can protect your college-aged child before they leave the nest. You should have at minimum the following planning documents:

1. Medical Power of Attorney – this document will name an agent to make medical decisions for your child in the event he or she is unable to make these decisions for themselves.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release – Under HIPAA, a patient’s sensitive health information is protected under Federal law. Therefore, no health information may be disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. Your child would need to list you as an authorized person on this document for you to obtain his or her medical information.

3. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney – this document names an agent to handle your child’s financial affairs if they are unable to.

4. Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Need of Guardian – this document will name a guardian of your child’s person, i.e., the person who will take care of your child’s physical body if the need arises. This document will also name a guardian of your child’s estate, i.e., the person who will be able to handle the financial affairs of your child if the need arises. If your child ever needed a guardian and had named a guardian in a document such as this one, the court would give great deference to that decision.

5. Directives to Physician – this document communicates your child’s wishes to your child’s doctor, other medical personnel or medical facility and family if he or she was to sustain an irreversible injury or become incapacitated and not expected to survive for a long period of time – i.e., would your child want to be kept alive on life support in this condition? Although this seems to be such a difficult decision for your child to make on his or her own, it is much better if you knew what his or her wishes were concerning this matter.

While these topics may seem so “grown up”, it is so important to sit down and discuss with your college-age child. When your child comes home from college for the holidays, if you have not done so already, please set aside some time to do just that. The Law Office of Jessica Swann Rymer will be happy to assist your family with drafting these most important documents for your college age child.