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Graduation Presents

Updated April 29, 2021
Professional headshot of Heather Gessner

Heather Gessner

SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist

Sealed copy of a living will on a desktop.
Courtesy: Canva

College and high school graduation invitations have been filling mailboxes across the country the past couple of weeks. Happy graduates anticipate the walk across the stage to shake hands with the school representatives and receive their diplomas. This act officially moves them on to the next stage of their lives.

This year, high school graduates are also celebrating their 18th birthdays, moving out of their parents’ homes and entering the workforce or continuing their education. While they are becoming adults, many still rely on their parents for health and medical advice and healthcare insurance.

One of those events is a more-significant issue than many may consider. Turning 18 means they are legally an adult. That single event means healthcare providers cannot talk to anyone about their wellbeing due to privacy laws.

Graduation Gift Ideas

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

The durable power of attorney for health care allows for the naming of someone else to make healthcare decisions about, and for, the individual when they cannot communicate. Usually referred to as an agent, representative or proxy, this person can be anyone of legal age. Traditionally, this would be a parent, spouse, or other trusted individual. The durable power of attorney for health care is activated when individuals cannot communicate their healthcare wishes and do not deal with any other aspects. This document is for medical decisions only. The durable power of attorney for health care should also include Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization. This authorization allows health care providers to share information with the selected agent.

Last Will and Testament

Probably the last thing parents want to think about at graduation is the need for a will. This vital document allows you to honor your child's wishes related to bank accounts, any personal assets and social media accounts.

Power of Attorney

Health-related incapacitation may also require addressing financial decisions. A power of attorney is used for many financial situations. The power of attorney document provides someone with authority to act on behalf of another. The individual given this authority is referred to as the attorney-in-fact. A springing durable power of attorney allows the individual to remain in control of their finances until a triggering event causes the "springing" of the document into action, thus giving the attorney-in-fact the authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the other.

Living Will (or Advanced Directive)

A living will (or advanced directive) may be a separate document or written in the health care power of attorney. The living will document states in advance which types of procedures we do not want to complete if death is imminent. For example, it states that “I do not want life support given if death is imminent.” If this document is signed, it takes away the power of attorney's ability to make that choice on whether to put me on life support because that choice was made in advance.

Contact your attorney to make this critical appointment. Hopefully, you never need to use the paperwork, but being prepared for a worst-case scenario avoids many issues and problems.

The information provided in this article is not provided as, nor is it intended to be legal advice. Consult an attorney with specific questions regarding the drafting and utilization of these documents.