As you celebrate your child graduating from high school and preparing to embark on their college journey, it’s essential to consider what legal documents may be needed to protect them. While your child is looking forward to their newfound freedom, you may be grappling with adjusting to an empty nest and ensuring their well-being from a distance.
One aspect often overlooked by parents of college-bound students is the importance of legal documents. Without proper documentation for children aged 18 and over, parents lose the right to make medical, legal, or financial decisions for their children or even be informed about their well-being during emergencies.
Here are some key legal documents to get in place before your child goes to college:
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) becomes crucial when your child leaves for college. Healthcare providers are prohibited from sharing any information with you in case of a medical emergency without it. Accidents and sports-related injuries are common among college students, so ensuring your child has an Advance Medical Directive and HIPAA Release in place allows you to access healthcare and treatment information.
Additionally, the Advance Directive outlines your child’s wishes regarding life-extending medical treatment, preserving their autonomy. Without an Advance Directive, a court or ethics board may end up making decisions about your child’s treatment plan.
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of your child should they become incapacitated. These decisions often involve managing bank accounts, paying bills, filing taxes, or breaking a lease, among others.
Without a Durable Power of Attorney, you won’t be able to assist your child in managing financial affairs without a court-appointed conservatorship.
For children attending college out of state, parents may want to execute documents in both their home and school states because laws may differ.
Be prepared to resign and re-execute these documents every couple of years, as your child’s decisions may change, and institutions may consider older documents outdated.
Our team has dealt with many unfortunate health-related situations between parents and their kids while at college. The risk of not having these legal documents in place is real, and the issues are complex! Consulting with an attorney is crucial to put a plan in place to protect your children while they’re away. Having these legal documents prepared before your child leaves for college will ensure their well-being and give you peace of mind.
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