Your child is getting ready to leave the nest and head off to college. Now would be a good time to make sure proper legal documents are ready, before the student departs.

School is about ready to start and I though it worth repeating a blog post from a few weeks ago.

Every child age 18 and older should have certain legal documents in place. In particular, your child heading off to college (whether first year or upperclass) should have the following:

  1. HIPAA Authorization. Once your child turns 18, your access to their medical records ends unless they complete a form called a HIPAA Authorization. Your child must sign the form to give you access to their records, appointments, test results, and doctors. Keep these documents in a safe place, where you can access them quickly, in case of an emergency.
  2. Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. The HIPAA Authorization gives no authority to make medical decisions for your child. A Health Care Proxy does, at those times when your child is unable to make or communicate medical decisions.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney. Chances are your student is heading off to college with a debit card and a credit card. However, do you have access to those accounts? Talk with your estate planning attorney about creating a Durable Power of Attorney, so you don’t run into any roadblocks, if your child needs help handling their finances. Opening a bank account or having a credit card attached to your account makes it easier for you to transfer money to your student. It also makes it easier for you to keep a watchful eye on their spending. Make a copy of the front and back of all cards so you can easily report them if lost or stolen.
  4. Colleges have a form known as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), which you usually can obtain at some point during orientation. This is a document that gives you the legal right to your child’s academic and financial information through the college. Think of this as the college’s HIPAA law. It’s not the same, but it can create the same level of obstruction, if you do not address it in advance. With it in place, you’ll be able to discuss their finances with the bursar’s office, their grades with their academic advisor and many other offices in the college that will otherwise refuse to speak with you.
  5. Account access. Make sure you have usernames and passwords for needed access to college records, financial accounts, and service accounts (like cell phones if not on your plan).

An estate planning attorney can advise you in preparing the proper legal documents.

Posted by Attorney Mark W. Worthington.

Learn more about Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts here.

This blog post does not constitute legal or tax advice, even if you are presently a client of Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts, PC, nor is an attorney-client relationship created by reading it. If you want legal or tax advice, you should retain a licensed attorney or tax advisor for that purpose.