If your child has reached the age of 18, graduated from high school and is away at college this fall, you’ve successfully navigated an endless stream of paperwork over the last thirteen or more years, including applications, health records, permission slips, report cards, and so on. And now, you’re done, right? Wrong.
There are 4 legal documents that can be executed by your child (now young adult) and will provide you with authority to access health, financial, and academic information as well as make decisions in the case of an emergency involving your child.
Designation of Patient Advocate: In the unfortunate case of an accident or situation that leaves your child unconscious or unable to make decisions about their health care, you will need a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also known as a Designation of Patient Advocate) to make decisions for them. Without this legal document, the healthcare provider has the ability to make all decisions about treatment, medication, and diagnoses without your and your child’s input.
What to do:
• Contact an estate planning attorney to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care that can provide specifics regarding your child’s health care wishes.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): As the parent of an adult, you no longer have the right to access your child’s private health data without their written permission because it is protected by federal law. HIPAA protection applies even if you are financially responsible for them and have listed your child on your health insurance policy as a dependent, which can be confusing for many parents. Without a HIPAA authorization form signed by your child, you will not be given any information, even in the case of an emergency requiring hospitalization.
What to do:
• If you know which doctors and medical facilities your child currently visits or will be visiting, you can access HIPAA forms on the providers’ websites to print, sign, and file an authorization for each one.
• If your child doesn’t have medical providers at their school yet, you can file one with the school’s clinic and any nearby hospitals or emergency facilities.
• An estate attorney can also provide you with a standalone HIPAA waiver that your child can bring to any healthcare facility.
General Durable Power of Attorney: A General Durable Power of Attorney can either be effective immediately or upon an individual’s incapacitation. If your child becomes incapacitated for any reason, a General Durable Power of Attorney allows you to make financial decisions on their behalf. This authorization could include bill payment, tax return submission, housing contracts, and much more.
What to do:
• Contact an estate planning attorney to discuss the preparation of a General Durable Power of Attorney for your child.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA):
Without a FERPA release, you will not have access to your child’s grades, tuition, financial aid documentation, or academic standing at their school. A FERPA release also authorizes you to speak to any educational professionals at your child’s college. Note that a FERPA release is not required, but it is advised if you are interested in accessing your child’s grades or are assisting with tuition payments.
What to do:
• A FERPA can be authorized by your student on the university’s website.
Sending your child off to college is an exciting time but can also be an emotional and stressful event. Minimize potential problems by taking the necessary steps to protect your child’s health, finances, and education. Note that both you and your child should retain copies of all signed documents, even if you are also required to file them with a provider.
Strobl is a team of experienced and trusted lawyers that can advise on all legal matters relating to Powers of Attorney and HIPAA authorizations. For more information, visit Strobl online at StroblLaw.com or on LinkedIn.