It’s a phone call no parent wants to get. Their 18-year-old child has gone off to college, leaving the nest for the first time, and despite being the most level-headed and responsible teenager imaginable, they’ve landed in the hospital. Every parent's natural inclination is to do everything possible to help their child, but after attempting to talk with the treating physician, they’re told they cannot participate in their child’s care. After 18 years of making medical decisions on their child’s behalf, parents are now on the outside, looking in.

The reason? Passed in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established a set of national standards for the protection of certain health information, but in doing so, the law also made it impossible for parents to participate or advise on their child’s medical care once they reach the age of 18 — unless that young adult has given express written permission for their parents to act as their agent in such a circumstance.

This is exactly what happened to estate planning attorney Laura Patton, our guest on the latest episode of A Place of Possibility™. Her son was off at college in Minnesota and had spent a late night playing video games with his friends. He slept in late, and after he woke up and showered, he passed out from dehydration, hitting his head on the corner of his dorm bed. His roommate took him to the emergency room and contacted Laura, who found herself absolutely terrified for her son. Even though she was an attorney, there was nothing she could do to help her child.

Her feeling of helplessness prompted Laura to seek a solution for young adults — and their parents — who could easily face this circumstance. She knew full well that consulting with an attorney to create the incapacity planning documents a young adult might need in this situation would be time-consuming and expensive. And, since most young adults haven’t amassed much in the way of financial or personal assets, creating a comprehensive estate plan for them was often overkill.

Her solution was to start Scholar Shield, an online service focused on creating customized, high-quality legal documents that are specifically geared toward young adults. Laura will chronicle her journey to coming up with this revolutionary approach to incapacity planning for young adults, as well as her own varied legal career path, and she’ll also explain the legal challenges that young adults face — challenges that HIPAA, despite its best intentions, has made more complex.

  • We’ll be talking about:
    The pervasive problem that faces parents whose kids are going off to college for the first time – how do they protect young adults while also encouraging their independence?
  • How Laura’s own experience as a mother instilled in her a sense of urgency to come up with a solution that bridged the gap between no incapacity planning at all and traditional estate planning that is designed for asset distribution after death.
  • The cost and time-saving advantages that Scholar Shield offers over the more traditional process of consulting with an attorney.
  • When and why a family might want to explore a more comprehensive estate plan.

And more!

As a parent, you encounter a mixture of emotions when your child turns 18 and leaves for college — elation that they’re on a good path, but also some sadness that they’ll no longer be under your roof. And you’ll no doubt worry about them. Yet, even if they’re as responsible as possible, unforeseen events can happen. This episode will help you look after a young adult’s best interests and ensure that you, as a parent, are involved in their care should those circumstances arise.

P.S. Looking to meet with Richard or Angela at our office in Alamo, CA? Want to discuss more of what you heard in this episode? Wondering where the heck you need to get started or what all of this means for your retirement plans? Schedule a free 30-minute session and find the peace of mind you deserve for the rest of your life. You can also reach us by calling 925.736.6410 or sending an email to

“For parents, for the first time, there's that sense of, ‘Wow, you know, they're leaving the nest’. It’s a little scary because you hope you've done everything you can to instill in them good habits, good traits, safety precautions, and things like that. But some things are out of your child's control.”

We’re proud to present you with our “Know Your Possibilities Guide,” a tool and free resource for you to take notes, review, keep on hand, or even share with your friends and family. So grab your copy, click the play button and follow along. You’re just minutes away from discovering your next Place of Possibility.

A Glance at this Episode:

0:00 Introduction

1:20 The debt ceiling impasse was solved a couple of weeks ago. Here’s why we’re incredibly proud of our clients.

2:12 The IRS has also announced the most considerable increase we’ve seen for Health Savings Accounts – a tool we think is very underused!

4:31 Here’s what you need to qualify for a Health Savings Account or HSA. If you do qualify, it’s this easy to set up an account.

6:09 Next, we’re excited to welcome guest and estate planning attorney Laura Patton to the show!

7:34 Many parents are cut out of their child’s medical care after they turn 18 because of HIPAA laws. But with the proper planning in place, this can be avoided.

8:43 Here are the shortcomings of handling a young adult’s necessary medical documents as part of an estate planning process.

9:58 Scholar Shield offers high-quality, customized legal documents for young adults without the high price tag of traditional estate planning.

10:43 Laura’s experience involving her teenage son was the genesis for Scholar Shield. Here’s more about what happened.

12:43 Scholar Shield’s customized versions of two crucial incapacity planning documents are an excellent fit for young adults. Here’s why.

14:14 Next, Laura talks about how the traditional power of attorney doesn’t have a special FERPA waiver specifically for students.

15:13 As you might expect, using Scholar Shield is a less expensive option than enlisting an attorney, but here’s another benefit.

15:46 Speedy turnaround time in completing these documents would be impossible if you were to work directly with an estate planning attorney.

16:48 Some will be reluctant to try Scholar Shield, but here’s how the service makes things surprisingly easy and fast.

17:56 Despite Scholar Shield’s benefits, there are cases where hiring an attorney is the best way to proceed. Here are some examples.

19:25 Parents who have children leaving California to go to school can still use Scholar Shield, but if they establish a permanent residence in another state, they would need to get new documents with an attorney licensed for the new state.

22:32 If the young adult is married, Laura recommends that they have a comprehensive estate plan in place.

23:22 People in their 30s might consider Scholar Shield if they have a medical condition.

24:14 Completing the necessary Scholar Shield forms is a quick process – for most, it takes under 15 minutes!

25:04 When their children leave home, parents hope that they’ve instilled good habits and proper judgment, but there are still things that are out of your child’s control.

26:26 You know what they say? The cerebral cortex isn’t fully developed until age 26, which is why parents may have a different perception of good judgment than their children do.

27:46 Scholar Shield is already much cheaper than working with an estate planning attorney, and if you have multiple young adults, there is a further discount.

29:28 You might think that young adults would be apathetic about incapacity planning, but Laura has found the kids are thrilled.

30:40 To anyone who has young adults, we highly recommend this service. Don’t wait to get the paperwork started!


Get in touch with Laura Patton:
Scholar Shield Legal Documents
Protecting Young Adults When Emergencies Happen

Serving California residents from Orinda, CA

Get a Protection Plan for your young adult here:


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Links/Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

“One-size-fits-all” won’t fit you here! The Del Monte Group team understands that everyone’s financial goals are unique. That’s why we always provide customized advice. No matter where you are in life, you can depend on our proven expertise to provide financial planning support for long-term success. Ready to get started? Schedule a meeting with Richard or Angela in our Alamo, CA based office today or we can meet via Zoom! >> You can select a date and time that works for you via our calendar, call us at 925.736.6410, or send an email to We can’t wait to help you!

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