If your child is a senior in high school, college is probably an everyday topic of conversation in your home. Between making sure they have their applications completed and filing for financial aid, there are some legal documents that you should consider, which could be important in medical or other emergencies. Consider these documents in case you need to make decisions on behalf of your college student.
Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver
Your child is probably now a legal adult, or soon will be, so you won’t have automatic access to information about their education, like their grades, academic records, or disciplinary actions. Even if you’re paying your child’s tuition, you still need a FERPA waiver to have access to any of their school records. Ask your child’s university to see if they have a preferred form.
Generally, if the student is the dependent of either parent on a US income tax return, FERPA doesn’t prevent the school from sharing information about the student with both parents.
Medical Documents and Authorizations
Medical documents and authorizations can be easy to overlook since you’re used to being the adult in charge of their health care. They may still be your baby, but once they reach the age of 18, they’re considered adults with their own privacy rights. These documents can help you focus on their care and recovery in the event of a medical problem.
HIPAA Authorization Form
This is one of the most important medical forms to have for your college student, allowing doctors and medical facilities to keep you updated regarding your child’s medical condition and health in the event of an emergency.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney allows your child to designate someone (typically a parent or legal guardian) to make medical decisions if they can’t speak for themselves. Ideally, your child should choose both a primary and a backup agent, just in case one of them isn’t available.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows your child to designate someone (typically their parents or legal guardians) to handle their financial affairs. It’s vitally important that the student designates someone trustworthy. This document can allow as much financial authority as the Durable Power of Attorney you may set up with your Estate Plan.
A Living Will allows your child to designate end-of-life care should they be in a persistent vegetative state, unable to make their own medical decisions. It’s also best for them to communicate these wishes to family members so that everyone is on the same page to avoid conflicts about the student’s intentions.
Most students are on their parents’ health insurance, but it’s important to confirm this before they leave for college, especially if they’re attending school out-of-state or in another country. Find out whether they’ll have lesser coverage than usual because of services being out-of-network.
Medical and Dental Appointments
Make sure your child has any medical and dental appointments taken care of at least a month before leaving for college. Get copies of their prescriptions so they can fill them while they’re away, and make sure they have a copy of any needed medical records, especially if they have a chronic medical condition.
Coverage For Your Child’s Belongings
Most homeowners’ insurance will cover your student’s belongings while they are at school, but call your insurer to be certain. It’s especially important to make sure that their laptop or tablet is covered, so they can quickly get a replacement if needed. If your child is living off-campus, they may need to obtain renter’s insurance. And remember, loss or damage to personal property will almost certainly be subject to a deductible that you, or the student, will need to cover from your own pocket.
It’s an adjustment to think of your child as a legal adult. As your student heads off to college, dealing with these important legal and medical considerations will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on the school year ahead.
Want to know how your student’s college plans affect your overall financial security? Give us a call, and let’s talk about it.
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