Health and Legal Matters When Your Child Heads Off to College: Parents Be Aware!
Note: This was an article in my June, 2019, newsletter but I felt this was important enough to also post separately. Parents, please read!
There are a few legal and financial issues that should be addressed before your son or daughter goes off to college. If your child has turned or will turn 18 during the next year, she is legally an adult, and you, her parent, lose the legal authority to make decisions on her behalf. That means that you have no legal right to see her grades, to manage her finances (although you remain responsible for paying her college tuition), or to make medical decisions or speak with her doctor.
So, before she goes off to college, consider asking her to sign some documents that will keep you informed.
• FERPA Release: with your child’s permission, you can speak with the college about her performance. Colleges often have their own FERPA release forms, so ask your college for a copy.
• HIPAA Authorization: allows you to access your child’s health records and speak to her doctors about medical issues.
• Advance Care Directive for Health Care: allows you to act on your adult child’s behalf in the event that she is incapacitated and unable to make decisions for herself.
• Durable Power of Attorney: allows you to act on your adult child’s behalf regarding legal or financial matters.
You can get the last three forms from your family lawyer or online. Each of these forms can be revoked at any time, but having them in place while your child is away at college may provide the whole family with extra peace of mind.