When your child turns 18, it’s the year they are able to vote for the first time; it’s the year that they graduate from high school; and it’s the year your child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. Many parents find it difficult to think of their 18-year-old as an adult especially if that 18-year-old still lives at home, is still under their health or auto insurance, and still needs financial assistance for college and rent.
Many parents and children are surprised when suddenly school, state, and health care officials are no longer able to share legal documents such as the durable power of attorney, HIPAA, and the advanced health care directive.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Elder people need a durable power of attorney for health care but it is equally important for college-aged children as well. This is sometimes called a health care proxy. It gives parents the ability to make decisions about their child’s health care. It avoids the Terri Schiavo problem. If a student goes to school out of state, it is important for that child to have a health care power of attorney for both states because some health care professionals may be hesitant to accept a form they don’t recognize.
The HIPAA Authorization allows doctors to speak about a student’s medical condition to whomever the student chooses.
The student should fill out a HIPAA authorization giving parents the full access to the students’ health information under any circumstances. You’ll need this authorization to show to the doctor, hospital, or college if you need access to your child’s private medical information.
Financial Power of Attorney
This document allows parents to manage their child’s finances. Depending on how it’s worded, it can become effective immediately or on a future date. It can authorize parents to act on their children’s behalf in all financial matters or it can set certain limits. The financial power of attorney can be useful if a student has a car accident or falls ill, leaving permanently or temporarily unable to make financial decisions. The financial power of attorney saves money and time and avoids a conservatorship.
Education Record Release
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that students 18 years old or over provide written consent before educational records such as grades, transcripts, and disciplinary records be shared with their parents. Although colleges often notify parents of this requirement, most parents don’t understand what’s at stake or they often forget.
When one child ignored the notification that financial aid documents weren’t complete and the child had lost the scholarship, the parents fainted. They were shocked to see the scholarship missing. When the parents called the school for an explanation, the school told them to contact the child because the school could not provide the information. If there had been a letter of authorization, the parents would have received the notice and avoided a lot of anxiety.