Don’t Leave Home Without It: Three Documents Every College Student Needs

Summer can be a busy time for the family preparing to send their child off to college. While shopping, packing and handling roommate issues may keep you preoccupied, it is important to discuss a few legal matters before your young adult flies the coop.

Summer can be a busy time for the family preparing to send their child off to college. While shopping, packing and handling roommate issues may keep you preoccupied, it is important to discuss a few legal matters before your young adult flies the coop.

Summer can be a busy time for the family preparing to send their child off to college. While shopping, packing and handling roommate issues may keep you preoccupied, it is important to discuss a few legal matters before your young adult flies the coop. That’s right. Legal matters. Now that your child is 18 years old, your “little baby” is legally in charge of his own life. This means that you are no longer entitled make medical or financial decisions for him or even talk to his doctor, unless you have the right paperwork in place.

So while running from IKEA to Target in preparation for the grand send off, you may want to stop at your attorney’s office to have Junior sign the following documents (which likely costs less than his dorm room décor):

Health Care Proxy:

The risk of accidents is real. According to one Forbes study, accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults, and one quarter million Americans between the ages of 18-25 are hospitalized each year. Unfortunately, even though you are still paying for health insurance for your child, you do not have the authority to make medical decisions on his behalf. Without a validly signed Health Care Proxy, the only way to make these types of decisions is by going to Court — and this is likely the last place you want to be if your child is undergoing a medical crisis.

A HIPAA Release and Authorization signed by your child will give authorization to the pertinent hospital or doctor to share information with you.

A HIPAA Release and Authorization signed by your child will give authorization to the pertinent hospital or doctor to share information with you.

HIPAA Release and Authorization:

By now, most have heard that there have been significant laws put into place for the protection of a medical patient’s privacy. These protections governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, are effective once an individual reaches the age of 18. This means that health care providers and medical facilities are legally prohibited from releasing medical information to you about your young adult, unless you have the proper documents in place. A HIPAA Release and Authorization signed by your child will give authorization to the pertinent hospital or doctor to share information with you.

Power of Attorney:

This document provides Mom and/or Dad with the authority to sign documents and manage financial affairs if your child is not available to do so. (Filing tax returns and managing left behind bank accounts, for example.) This is an especially important document when your child is attending college or studying abroad, because even though you are paying the tuition, the school contract is between the university and your child. This means that administration may not release academic records or transcripts to you without proper authority. Having this document in place may provide that authority.

You don’t have to be a helicopter parent to need these documents. As you may explain to your child, they are in place for the protection of both you and him and provide peace of mind in the case of emergency. Call our office to schedule an appointment today, before your young adult begins his new journey.

This article is a service of 20West Legal, LLC Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.