Do you have a child over the age of 18? Is he or she planning on attending college next year? Once your child turns 18, s/he has reached the age of majority. At this point, you, as a parent, are no longer the legal guardian of your adult child and you are unable to make medical or financial decisions for that adult child. Although you may be paying tuition and supporting your child, without the proper documentation in place, you will no longer legally have access to:
Your child’s medical records
You cannot obtain the medical status of your child if s/he is admitted to a hospital
You cannot make health care decisions for your child, if s/he becomes injured or incapacitated
You cannot schedule doctor’s appointments for your child or assist with filling prescriptions
You cannot assist your child with banking/finances unless already named on the account
You will not have access to his/her grades, making communication with the school more difficult
In order to ensure that you are able to assist your child with financial and medial decisions, there are several important documents, such as a power of attorney, health care proxy, FERPA forms and other advance directives, that will assist your college student in creating an appropriate estate plan to meet their needs.
Power of Attorney: Enables your adult child to appoint an agent to assist with financial decisions. This can include powers to file taxes, access to bank accounts and pay bills on behalf of your child. A power of attorney that is properly executed in the state in which the child has full-time residency is usually honored throughout the United States. However, it is also recommended to contact an attorney in the state in which your child is attending school to confirm that the documents will be valid in that state.
Health Care Proxy: Allows your adult child to designate an agent to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if s/he is incapable of doing so.
HIPAA Authorization: Allows a healthcare provider to disclose an individual’s confidential medical information to the adult (“Agent”) named on the form.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”): Authorization allowing a parent or trusted adult access a student’s educational records.
Additionally, individual schools often have particular forms to complete that are unique to that school. Contact your child’s school to confirm that you complete any school-specific forms and file them the registrar and health offices on campus.
The experienced attorneys at Fitzgerald & Sadove PLLC can assist you in creating the appropriate documents for you and your child, to ensure the seamless transition from high school to college. So before you pack up the car make sure you have all the necessary documents in place to have a successful college experience!