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There are few things as bittersweet for a parent than seeing your child off to college. Parents often feel a mix of emotions. You may feel proud of their success, sad about their departure and excited about their future.

While your child may be embarking on this new chapter with a sense of independence and maturity, thinking only about the opportunities for their collegiate life, you may still worry. Although your child is grown, you may still be thinking about ways to protect them.

You hope that your child will get through their college years unscathed, but what happens if tragedy strikes? Who will be able to make decisions on behalf of your child?

Although the likelihood of a tragedy is low, it is important to be prepared. You should consider a discussion with your child about their wishes in the event of an emergency.

Health care surrogate

If your child becomes injured or ill and is unable to direct their own care, someone will need to make those decisions. A designated health care surrogate document establishes who can make those decisions and who is authorized to discuss their medical care and treatment with health care providers. Without this document, HIPAA laws prevent this discussion unless a plan is in place.

If your child is far from home, having a legally established surrogate will allow that person to discuss your child’s medical needs over the phone. Discuss with your child who they want to be their surrogate.

Discuss power of attorney

Establishing a durable power of attorney allows a designated person to do anything non-medical in your child’s name. Your child may need to drop out of classes by a certain date if they are too ill to complete them, or they may need their rent to be paid on time.

As you discuss who they should name, suggest they consider that a durable power of attorney has broad power that could be abused. Whoever your child names should be someone they trust completely and with whom they have a long-term relationship.

Assuming your child has that relationship with both parents, maybe whichever parent is not the designated health care surrogate can be the durable power of attorney so that neither parent is overwhelmed in a crisis.

These discussions are never easy, but ensuring your child’s needs are protected in the event of an emergency, will help put everyone’s mind at ease.