“My son is leaving for college on the East Coast in August. Is there anything special I should consider, legally or financially, in preparing for this life change – both for my son and for me?”
This is an excellent question and it’s one any parent of a child going off to college and, for that matter, the parents of any young adult, should be asking their estate planning attorney. The simple answer, according to the article “Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Off to College,” from Monterey Herald: YES!
When college students go to off to a world of dorm living, classes and increased independence, many are on their own for the first time. If they are 18 or older, they are legally considered adults. If they become sick or injured while away, the rules of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, prohibit anyone from speaking with a doctor, gaining access to medical records or being informed of their status–even their own parents!
If your college admissions package did not include an Advance Health Care Directive and a HIPAA release form giving you permission to speak on behalf of your student, speak to doctors and to be part of any medical decisions. Your estate planning attorney will be able to draft those documents for you.
Make sure that your college-bound student also has a list of who they should contact in an emergency, including cell, home and work numbers and email addresses. This list should include their primary treating physician and a history of their immunizations, chronic conditions, medications and other relevant medical issues.
This information can be stored in the cloud or on their phones. However, if the phone is stolen or lost, so is a lot of sensitive data. Write it down on an old-fashioned piece of paper and keep a hard copy at home and one on your own computer, so it can be easily sent if necessary.
You should also consider having a power of attorney for finances and a directive to the college, so information on your student can be released to you. This will allow you to see the academic records and act on your child’s behalf on any legal matters.
If you have adult children, even those who graduated long ago, you may also to wish to have some of these documents prepared.
Once you have the proper documents in place, you and your college-bound child student can focus on their new lives, furnishing a dorm room and picking out a new laptop!
Resource: Monterey Herald (July 28, 2018) “Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Off to College”