So, your child is going to college! It’s such an exciting time! There are so many
decisions to make, from what will your student’s major be to dorm décor - but one of the
most important decisions you can make is something you may not be aware of.
Although we still view them as kids, most college students are legal adults, which
means that in the event of an emergency, you most likely will not be able to access their
financial or medical records, or even discuss healthcare options with their doctor. There
are, however, three easy things you can do that will save you a lot of time, headache
1. Execute a Medical power of attorney (POA), which will appoint you as your adult child’s medical agent. Should your student become incapacitated, a medical POA will allow doctors to discuss your adult child’s condition and treatment options with you so you can make an informed medical decision on your adult child’s behalf. Without a medical POA, the doctor or the hospital’s legal department may not discuss your adult child’s condition with you, or allow
you to make medical decisions on their behalf.
2. Execute a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act release form, (HIPAA). A HIPAA form provides you with access to your adult child’s medical records and allow doctors to discuss his or her healthcare with you. Without a HIPAA form you likely will not be allowed to view test results or other information. A HIPAA form will also allow you to receive and discuss your adult child’s medical bills with the hospital, doctor’s office, or health insurance company. A HIPAA and a POA differ in that a POA designates you as the person who will make medical decisions on behalf of your adult child should they become incapacitated, which you cannot do with a HIPAA only.
3. Execute a Durable POA. While a medical POA and HIPAA are strictly for healthcare, a durable POA covers legal and financial matters. Should your student become incapacitated, a durable POA will allow you to access and manage your adult child’s financial or legal matters, like paying bills, managing bank accounts and/or investments, or breaking a contract such as an apartment
Hopefully, you will never need any of these documents, but if you don’t have them and
your student becomes incapacitated, you may have to go to court and request a
guardianship—for the legal rights we’ve just discussed. This will take time and could
end up costing you thousands of dollars.
These forms are reasonably inexpensive to put in place, so you can have peace of mind
while your student is off living their college dream. We recommend using a licensed
attorney, like the Law Queens, to ensure that the forms are drafted properly and in
accordance with the law,