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  • Nicole J. Zuvich

Does your college-aged son need a health care proxy?

Updated: Sep 27

Even if you know your college-aged son is a good kid, you probably have little control over what he does at college. Sadly, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 1,500 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related causes annually.

If your son binge drinks, drives while drunk or ride with an intoxicated driver, he may sustain potentially life-threatening injuries. Still, before providing care, doctors may need to speak with someone who can make medical decisions on your child’s behalf.

You have no automatic legal authority

While you may have made most or all of your son’s medical decisions so far in life, you have no legal authority to do so after he turns 18. That is, when your child becomes an adult, his medical decisions are up to him.

If your son is unable to make his or her own decisions due to incapacitation or something else, this fact may make you feel powerless. Even worse, precious moments may pass without your child receiving appropriate care.

A health care proxy gives you the authority

Even if your son has lived a healthy life, he may want to think about preparing an advance directive. This estate planning tool tells doctors and others about the medical procedures your child wants and does not want.

When making an advance directive, your son may also choose to designate a health care proxy. This is simply someone who has the authority to make medical decisions for your child. If you have a good relationship with your son, he may choose you to be the proxy.

While most college-aged kids get through school without suffering a catastrophic injury, others are not so lucky. Ultimately, if you can convince your son to designate you as his health care proxy, you may find some peace of mind.

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