The fall marks a time when many parents have sent their children off to college. As both embark on a new chapter in their lives, this transition signals a time for parents to plan for making decisions for their children who are now young adults. Among the many conversations that parents need to have with their children as they prepare for independence, planning for the “what if” while they’re at college is one of the most important.
Regardless of where student attend college, when they become adults in the eyes of the law, their parents no longer have the legal right to make decisions regarding their care or finances should their children become ill or have an accident and become incapacitated. This also applies to access to information about their children’s condition; federal and state privacy laws (e.g., HIPAA) prohibit doctors from disclosing medical information regarding adults to others without written consent. This is the case regardless of whether the student is covered by the parents’ or the school’s health insurance.
There are several estate planning documents that we can prepare to address these issues. First, a medical records authorization/privacy waiver ensures that parents can get information regarding their child’s medical condition. Second, an Advance Health Care Directive gives parents the power to make healthcare decisions their children can’t make for themselves. Third, a Durable Power of Attorney gives parents the authority to handle their children’s finances during a time of incapacity. Our office can prepare these documents to be valid in any state where the student is attending school.
You’ve paid the tuition and fees. They’ve got their laptop, cell phone, meal plan, books and transportation. Now that they’re on their own, take the next step to complete the most important “care package” you can give them.