HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL! I want to start off by first saying I do love my munchkin. However, by the beginning of August, we were both ready for some time apart. He was looking forward to going back to school. I know attention spans are short these days and you are wondering what the heck this has to do with my summer vacation and more importantly estate planning. Read on.
One day about 10 months ago while driving, my son and I were channeling each other’s thoughts because we both came up with the idea for a road trip. I LOVE road trips. My mom and I used to take them all the time when I was a kid (my CB handle was sugar bear, yes I am older than I look). I told my husband the family vacation this year would be a totally awesome road trip and he was going to have the pleasure of planning it. Let’s just say he was less than keen on the idea of going and he definitely had trepidation about being left with the planning. Hey, I’m the idea person. I delegate the details to others. Isn’t that what great managers/wives do? He planned it and did an awesome job!
We planned the trip for the last week in July. This was our first RV road trip. We rented an RV named Moe for a week. We stayed at RV and state parks. There were only a couple of state parks where the bathroom was a little sketchy. Here’s the itinerary: Abilene State Park > Alpine > Marfa > Balmorrhea > Carls Bad >Colorado City > Home. It was a busy trip. We took our chocolate lab Apollo and a couple of cousins of mine. It was cozy.
We took a little hike when we got to Abilene. Abilene was just the halfway point to our first real destination, Alpine. Not much to see in Alpine. The German restaurant we hoped to go to was no more. Did a little shopping. Got there too late to hike. The next day had us in Marfa. We hiked into town in the heat only to discover, there’s not much to see in Marfa either. They did have a very nice looking courthouse. We went to see the Marfa lights but they didn’t show up that night. However, we did see a beautiful night sky full of stars. We could even see the Milky Way. It makes you realize how much light pollution we live with in the cities and the beauty we are deprived of because of it.
The next day we headed to the McDonald Observatory where we sat through a presentation on the sun. We got to see live shots of the sun but it wasn’t doing much. No sunspots or flares but there was video of those things. It was very interesting and we learned a lot. We then spent the rest of the day at Balmorrhea swimming with the fish in the gigantic spring fed pool.
In Carls Bad, we went to the caverns. We opted to enter the caverns at its mouth instead of taking the elevator. The smell of bat guano was strong. The mile hike down into the caverns was worth it! We were all pooped at the end of the day. Our second day in Carls Bad was a day of rest. In the evening, we went to see the bats come out of the cave. I must admit it was rather underwhelming. It’s not at all like the bats coming out of the cave when you see it on Scooby Doo.
My son and I had a great time! Despite their desire not to come on this most fantabulous road trip, my young cousins thought it didn’t totally suck. We played games, listened to books, and talked. One particular thing I learned on this trip is that my son knows a lot of stuff for a six-year old that he didn’t learn in school but by reading. My husband just wished we had left the dog at home. That is a story for another day.
When we returned, it was time to get ready to head back to school. My son and cousins started school at the beginning of August. Heading back to school got me to thinking about some things parents of college bound kids should think about, namely having their college freshman do some estate planning.
As a mom I know your son or daughter will always be your munchkin on some level in your mind. However, at 18 the law sees them as an adult and adults get little pesky rights like privacy and truly independent decision-making ability. What that means to you as the parent is that you can no longer make medical decisions for them or even find out what type of medical treatment they have had without a release signed by them. You no longer have the authority to handle any of their personal affairs for them, particularly bank accounts, without their permission.
Parents of the college bound should have their young adult do some estate planning. At this stage in their life and yours, your young adult should have at least the following:
- Durable Power Of Attorney: as your child’s agent you can maintain bank accounts, pay bills, and handle any other financial matters that might arise,
- Medical Power Of Attorney: with this document you can make medical decisions for your child when he or she can’t make them for themselves and
- HIPAA Release: this document allows healthcare providers to release medical information to you about your child
- You may also want to consider a Declaration For Mental Health Treatment: this document allows your child to specify what kind of mental health treatment they consent to in the event they are not capable of making informed medical decisions.
The school may have its own form it wants you to fill out in relation to access to health care information. You should check with the universities health services department.
Heaven forbid anything tragic happening but if the unthinkable does happen, you as parents will have a much easier time obtaining information from the school and any medical facilities and handling the personal affairs of your child. These simple documents will make your life a lot easier.
If you would like further information or assistance, please contact Bedford, Texas Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, Antoinette Bone, at (817) 462-5454 or email [email protected].
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