Imagine you’re 18 years old and starting college.

First time living away from home, still largely dependent on your parents. You’ve never spent a day in your life without the loving companionship of family and friends.

Within in days of your arrival, you are moved into an isolation chamber.

As you enter the chamber, you see no other person. Your meals are delivered to a drop box, again without you seeing another person. Your daily physical activity consists of walking from one end of the chamber to the other, a distance of 6 strides.

For 2 weeks, you see no other person. And then you are released.

Sounds like science fiction? It’s not.

This is what’s happening to college kids across the country who test positive for COVID-19.

The scenario above was described in a recent Dallas Morning News article. You can read the full article here.

The college is Southern Methodist University (SMU). And don’t worry, SMU is taking good care of their students who test positive for COVID-19. The “isolation chambers,” or “wellness pods,” as the university calls them, are well-equipped trailers that are “nicer than a dorm.” Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom area, and TV. Good meals and cleaning supplies provided. Students quarantining in the trailers are also still attending class via ZOOM.

Anyone familiar with Dallas will get why I find the idea of a trailer park in the middle of Highland Park widely amusing.

Even When You are Paying for the Insurance and Footing the Medical Bill, You Still Don’t Have Rights to Your College-Age Child’s Medical Information…

The pandemic is a sobering reminder that life-altering accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone, even healthy young people.

Everyone over the age of 18 should have basic estate planning documents.


Believe it or not, even though you pay all of the bills for your 18-year-old and still do her laundry, in the eyes of the law, she is legally an adult and you have no more rights to her medical information than you would a stranger off the streets. This is true even if your daughter is still on your insurance.

…Unless You Have These Documents

In order to be able to step in when your college-age child needs you most, you should encourage her to execute a HIPAA Release and a Medical Power of Attorney.

The HIPAA Release gives medical professionals the authority to talk to you about your child’s medical situation so you can make informed decisions. The Medical Power of Attorney allows you to make medical decisions on your children’s behalf if they are seriously injured.

These documents are relatively inexpensive. For assistance, contact your estate planning attorney.

Make sure both you and your child have copies of these documents. You may also want to consider using an online service such as Legal Vault. Legal Vault stores the documents and provides your child with an emergency access wallet card and a sticker to be placed on your child’s driver’s license to alert healthcare providers of the card and 24/7 access to your child’s medical information and advance directives.

There are lots of things we do to prepare our children for their life as adults. Be sure that being prepared for a medical emergency is top on that list. And laundry. Kids eventually do their own laundry, right? 

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