Getting Ready for College with the Right Legal Documents

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Legal Documents – Are you Ready to Send Your Child to College?

If you have a student going off to college for the first time or already living away at school, be sure you have certain important documents in place. Specifically, a medical power of attorney and a HIPAA release for college students. These key documents will let you as the parent get info about them in the event of a medical emergency.

Make Sure You and Your College Student Fill Out These Legal Documents

An article in the National Law Review explained there are three forms that parents and college students need to fill out before the school year begins. For each of the forms, parents should keep the original and the student should have copies. It may be a good idea for a roommate or fellow student to know where the copies are. In addition, the family may want to see if a copy can be filed at the school with student medical records.

Keep in mind that all of these forms should be updated each year and that you’ll need one form in your state of residence and a separate one in your child’s state of residence if they’re attending an out-of-state school.

  1. HIPAA Form: It can be hard to get an update about a loved one in the hospital over the phone when there’s been a sudden onset of a medical issue. You need to be sure you are authorized to receive the information about your child. You need a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) form.

This document lets a patient (your college student) designate certain family members, friends and others who can be updated about their medical info during treatment. The HIPAA form becomes extremely important if your child is living away at school and gets involved in an accident. That’s because medical information will not be released to you over the phone even though you’re the parent — unless you fill out this form.

  1. Medical Power of Attorney: A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document naming you the parent a “medical agent” for your college student. If your child becomes medically incapacitated, you can make informed medical decisions on their behalf. This document can name you as the sole point of contact and decision-maker. That will allow you to decide the best course of action with the doctors.

For a list of medical power of attorney forms by state, click here.

  1. General Durable Power of Attorney: A general durable power of attorney covers financial decisions. This document allows a college student to give authority to another person (the parents) to make financial/legal decisions. It also allows the parents to make financial transactions on the student’s behalf such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, applying for government benefits and breaking a lease.

Find the right durable power of attorney forms by state here.

We know college is a time of great change for both parents and their kids. Young adults are dealing with being on their own for the first time and parents may be dealing with empty nest syndrome. Because we’re so intimately involved with raising our children, it’s tempting to see them as just that — children. But in the eyes of the law, that changes the minute they turn 18. Once they cross that threshold into adulthood, they are no longer under your agency. That applies to matters both big and small, particularly issues related to emergency health care. Work with your child to communicate to them why you and they need to sign a health care proxy for college students, a HIPAA release for college students and more.