Preparing Essential Documents Before Your Child Goes off to College

Written by Timothy Bock on .


Preparing for college is exciting and expensive. Any parent who has painstakingly spent hours in Target and Bed Bath and Beyond finding the perfect dorm sheets, blankets, refrigerator, desk and lamp among the countless other items you’ll likely buy along with those, can tell you that sending a child off to college is not just emotionally draining it is financially draining. While you are making these important purchases to ensure your child is well-prepared and comfortable in her or his new living environment, there are some legal documents that need to be prepped as well.

Get Organized

Having a medical power of attorney and a HIPAA release for your adult children is extremely important in case the unthinkable happens. It can be a hard conversation to have. No one wants to discuss mortality or severe injury with their kids, but the alternative is far worse. In the case of an adult child who, for example, gets into a bad car crash and falls into a coma, without the three legal documents cited above, you cannot get any information about the condition of your child from doctors as they would be breaking their Hippocratic oath.

Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed so that family members and close relatives could be provided with information about a loved one. When a HIPAA release form is signed, whoever is listed on it is allowed to receive information about that patient. In its absence, a doctor has a legal obligation to withhold information regardless of your relationship to the patient. A medical power of attorney, commonly known as a health-care proxy, allows someone else to make health care decisions on behalf of another person when that person is incapable of doing it themselves.

Be Proactive

When children go off to college and something happens to them that renders them unable to communicate, that hospital staff is not legally allowed to share with parents or take directions over the phone without the legal documentation they require. It is important to note that, once your child turns eighteen, they are, legally speaking, a stranger to you.

While it is scary and uncomfortable to have these discussions with your children as they are embarking on the most exciting years of their lives, it is critical to ensuring their best interests and wishes are communicated to medical professionals. Here are links to the documents aforementioned: HIPAA | Medical Power of Attorney. Speaking with your financial advisor and estate planning attorney can be invaluable in these types of situations. If you have any questions about this or other financial planning topics don’t hesitate to reach out.

Tags: financial planning, , emotions and finance, , education, college, power of attorney