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. Most college students are 18, although a few are younger, which means they are considered to be legal adults. With that comes a whole lot of independence from their parents, regardless of who is footing the bill for their education.
Unless they give you permission or their login information, you will be unable to have access to their health records, grades, pretty much anything that has HIPAA laws behind it. Talk to your student about signing over permission for the college to speak with you. Make certain they understand that without that signed permission, everything, and we mean everything, pertaining to the college. From medical records to financial aid, cannot be discussed with any other person but themselves. While you may be footing the bill for your college student, remember, the vast majority of them are over the age of 18, thereby affording them certain protections, including the sharing of any information.
Have you Heard that when a child turns legal age (18), if something catastrophic were to happen, which we all hope and pray does not unless you have specific legal documents, your hands will be tied? The last position you want to be in is making decisions, or not being able to make decisions, in a crisis situation. You can often find these documents free online or you may be able to get them from an attorney, but we are sharing them with you.
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate – this legal document allows for your child to designate a surrogate to provide informed consent for medical treatment, surgical or diagnostic procedures should they become incapacitated. There are many other aspects of this document, but without having a family member or some other person your child knows and trusts, you may lose valuable time as a court-appointed guardian may be named. Laws differ by state so it is best to research each state’s individual laws as it applies to who would make these decisions for you 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 may be made. You should name the same person you name as your 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. In fact, there are many who still do not have wills. If your child is incapacitated or has an end-stage terminal condition, as a legal adult, you should want them to make their desires known and be able to direct that process while they are of sound mind and body. The mere mention of a will to an eighteen-year-old may seem ridiculous but by having an open and honest discussion, you are taking their wishes into consideration. 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. You may have had this discussion when they went for their driver’s license as that is an item listed on the license. This discussion is one of the mature discussions you will have with your child and as such, should be approached with knowledge and compassion. The document also allows for one or two persons to be named as agents regarding the Living Will allowing them to act inconsistently with their intentions should it be in their best interest and they are incapacitated.
- Durable Power of Attorney. This allows your student to appoint one or two persons that 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 not cover them while they are living on or off-campus (many will cover 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.collegestudentinsurance.com and National Student Services, Inc.