The following is an article from the May 2017 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at or subscribe for free at

I understand why some people might label me a “helicopter mom” when they find out how much work I put into my daughter’s college search. So much has changed since my husband and I attended college—we wanted to explore each school she was interested in and find the right fit so she would be happy and successful.

During the process, a friend introduced me to a website called Grown and Flown, for parents of young adults graduating from high school and starting college. One article that stood out on the site was the story of a young man in a coma after a snowboarding accident, whose parents were told that because he was 18 and legally an adult, they could not make decisions on his behalf. 

It hadn’t occurred to me that once my daughter turned 18, my rights as a parent effectively ceased. In an emergency, I would have no authority to talk with her doctors or the school about the goings on in her life. I asked my daughter’s high school and several other parents, and none of them, it seems, had contemplated this either. After some research, I learned she needed a medical power of attorney, a HIPAA release, and a durable power of attorney. Getting these documents for my daughter is what first brought me in to CFEP.

When we first discussed it, I was worried that Alexandra would think I was being overbearing. But here’s what she has to say about that conversation: “When my mom asked me last year if I would be willing to sign some power of attorney papers, I automatically agreed. We have open communication, and I know I could rely on our strong relationship if worse came to worst. But what if I weren’t able to communicate?  Whose hands would my life be taken into? I would much rather know that if something happened to me, my parents would be alerted and aware of the situation and know what is best for me. That’s exactly what parents are for!”

If your son or daughter is graduating this year, first, Congratulations! Second, talk with them about who they would want making decisions for them if they were hurt. If you’re a current client, and we already have most of your information on file, all it takes is a short signing meeting to put these documents in place. Give us a call to get on the calendar this summer.


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