Mother and daughter planning for college.

Before heading off to college, students should sign three documents that can be critically important if they get into serious trouble.

This paperwork will allow parents to be notified and involved if their child ends up at a hospital and/or becomes incapacitated in any way.

Signing these legal documents is necessary because automatic parental authority over their children ends at 18 years of age.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization

To put it bluntly, HIPAA is no friend to parents who need to know about the medical condition of their children in college.

Imagine if you get a call that informs you that your son or daughter was in a bad traffic accident and is being transported to a hospital. It’s a call every parent dreads, but imagine contacting the emergency room and being told that no information will be released to you because of the HIPAA privacy provisions!

This information blackout can occur even if your child is being treated under your health insurance and you are paying the bill!

You can circumvent this crazy privacy blackout by having your children sign the HIPAA authorization. This will exempt you from the HIPAA privacy rules.

A student doesn’t have to worry that signing this document will give parents access to sensitive information that they’d rather keep secret such as sex, drugs and mental health issues. They can stipulate what kind of information they’d like to remain private.

Medical Power of Attorney

A student signing this document will assign an “agent” who can make medical decisions on his or her behalf when incapacitated. Each state will have different legal forms to complete since the rules vary for these documents. In many  states, the HIPAA release is rolled into the medical power of attorney.

 In some states, this document may need to be notarized and/or require a witness’ signature.  

If a student is attending school out of state, play it safe and sign documents for both states.

Durable Power of Attorney

This document allows a parent to act on behalf of the child outside of medical issues.  This paperwork allows a parent or trusted adult to intercede for a child in a variety of financial and legal matters.

For instance, if a child gets in trouble while studying abroad, having a power of attorney will make it easier to communicate with the U.S. embassy. The document can also come in handy if a parent needs to sign a lease in a child’s absence or needs to wire money from the student’s account.

The power of attorney can be made effective as soon as it is signed or it can take effect only if a child becomes incapacitated.

Signing the Documents

It’s best to name an alternate for both powers of attorney if the first person is unable or unwilling to serve.

You can continue to use these documents after a child leaves college. When a child gets married, they can then amend the forms.

Once you have the signed documents, be sure to scan them and make sure they are readily available on your cell phone and computer. 

Post Categories: