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Health care estate planning for young adults

Most college students in Nevada and around the country spend very little time thinking about estate planning, but many of the documents found in a comprehensive estate plan can be of great value even to the young and healthy. After all, college students are adults who are legally responsible for decisions regarding their health. While it's not pleasant to think about, deadly accidents can happen to young people.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents parents from accessing the health records or information of their adult children even if they are still covered under a family insurance plan. This makes it extremely difficult for them to step in and provide assistance in a medical emergency. Such a situation could be prevented by drafting a HIPPA authorization, which would authorize doctors or hospitals to release information to a designated third party.

A health care power of attorney could be even more important in situations when a young person is unable to make decisions because of mental health problems, illness or injury. This document authorizes a trusted individual to make important decisions about what kind of medical treatment to provide and when that treatment should cease. A durable power of attorney provides a similar authorization to make financial decisions, conduct transactions and sign legal documents.

Legal counsel with experience in this area could explain how even people in the prime of life could enjoy greater peace of mind by having powers of attorney and other estate planning tools in place. A lawyer could also advocate on behalf of their client if these documents are ever challenged in court. Legal counsel may suggest revisiting powers of attorney on a regular basis and after major events to ensure that the individuals authorized to make decisions are still the people the drafter trusts the most with these matters.

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