Before you leave!
Before you leave to take your kid to college, there are a few items you will want to take care of that are extremely important. Although a few are younger, most college students are 18. This means they are now considered legal adults. With that comes a whole lot of independence — expected or unexpected — from their parents, regardless of who is footing the bill for their education or claiming dependency on a tax return.
Unless they give you permission or their login information, you will be unable to access your student’s health records, grades, and pretty much anything that has HPPA laws behind it. Before move-in day, talk to your student about signing the necessary permission for the college to speak with you. Make certain they understand that without that signed permission, nothing — and we mean NOTHING — pertaining to the college can be discussed with any other person besides themselves. This includes information ranging from medical records to financial aid to the balance on the account you may be helping to pay. While you may be footing some or all of the bill for your college student, your 18+ year-old is afforded the legal protections that include the sharing of protected information.
The Crucial Stuff
HaveUHeard that when a child turns legal age (18), your hands would be tied in a catastrophic situation unless you have specific legal documents? While we all hope and pray nothing like that happens, the last position you want to be in is not being allowed to make necessary decisions in a crisis situation. The crucial documents below can be searched and found free online or obtained from an attorney. We are sharing them here, in this one blog, via the links below because it is such an important aspect of parenting a young adult.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate – This legal document allows for your child to designate a surrogate to provide informed consent. This consent can be needed for medical treatment, including surgical or diagnostic procedures, should your student become incapacitated. You could lose valuable time in an emergency, waiting for a court-appointed guardian to be designated if you don’t have a family member (or some other person your child knows and trusts) appointed via this document. There are other aspects to this document, and laws differ by state, so it is best to research both the application of this document and your individual state’s laws. Before you send them off to school, understand how your local laws apply to who would make these decisions for your student should this form not be executed.
Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information – Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you will want to have all health information available so proper treatment can be given. Your student should name the same person they name as their surrogate so that there is continuity, especially when time is of the essence in a medical crisis.
Declaration of Living Will – Most of us operate under the premise that a will is not drawn up until you are older or have children. There are actually many among us who still do not have wills. But if your child, now a legal adult, is incapacitated or has an end-stage terminal condition, you should want them to make their desires known before the need arises. Being able to direct that process while they are of sound mind and body eases the pain that inevitably accompanies that circumstance.
The mere mention of a will to an eighteen-year-old may seem ridiculous to both of you. But by having an open and honest discussion, you can encourage them to make their wishes known so they can not only be taken into consideration, but honored. Perhaps they may not want a feeding tube or other artificially-provided method for nourishment and fluids. They may or may not want to donate their organs. Honestly, you may have already had this part of the discussion when they applied for their driver’s license, because that organ donor question is an item listed on the license.
This Living Will discussion is unquestionably one of the more mature discussions you will have with your child. For their sake and yours, it should be approached with knowledge and compassion. The document also allows for one or two persons to be named as agents regarding the student’s Living Will, permitting the agents to act consistently with the intentions and best interests of the student should the student become incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorney – This document allows your student to appoint one or two persons to represent and act for them in all matters in order to expedite handling all of their business, property, and affairs.
Insurance – Your homeowners’ insurance policy may or may not cover them while they are living on or off-campus. (Many policies do include coverage if they are living in an on-campus residence at no extra cost.) Check the terms of your home insurance policy. Most of the large insurance companies offer separate renters policies at a reasonable rate. You may also want to look at two of the more reputable college student insurance companies College Student Insurance and National Student Services, Inc.
Sorry for today’s daunting read. We truly hope you never need the precautions you are so responsibly enacting.
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