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August 30, 2018

Important Documents When Turning 18

It’s an exciting day when your child turns 18 and legally becomes an adult. It’s also an important time to help your new adult make some adult decisions.

Why College Students Need These

It’s an exciting day when your child turns 18 and legally becomes an adult. It’s also an important time to help your new adult make some adult decisions. Some of those decisions include completing a couple of serious documents– a power of attorney for health care (POAHC) and a durable power of attorney (POA).

“While the durable power of attorney and power of attorney for health care are typically thought of in relation to older people, it’s very important that anyone over the age of 18 also have these documents completed,” said Cheryl Seelig, practice administrator for ThedaCare Physicians-New London.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) created rules limiting who can have access to an adult person’s health information. “Once a child turns 18, their parents no longer have the power to make health care decisions for them. If the young adult gets in an accident or becomes ill enough to require a doctor’s care or hospitalization, the parents could find themselves unable to obtain information about the person’s condition,” Seelig said.

For students heading off to college, completing these documents, especially the POAHC, is essential. “It’s frightening for parents to suddenly be unable to find out what’s wrong with their child or be involved with their care,” Seelig said. “That’s why it’s so important to have the student complete the document.” 

If the young adult has a POAHC completed and signed, whoever is named on that form can obtain health information. Typically the young adult will name parents or another trusted adult.

ThedaCare Health Systems provides online forms and instructions for completing the POAHC. Visit Near the bottom of that page is a link to the forms for Advanced Directives/POAHC

The durable power of attorney (POA) document allows the student to name someone to handle their finances should they become incapacitated for a period of time. Again, numerous durable power of attorney forms are available online. In addition, many lawyers will assist in preparing both the POAHC and POA for a reasonable fee. 

“It’s exciting to send your student off to college. If you’ve taken care of the POAHC and POA, you can send them off with fewer worries,” Seelig said. “Remember to add a well-stocked first-aid kit to their college supplies.”

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose, as well as 31 clinics in nine counties and the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.