As your child heads off to college, you may have a long checklist of all the essential items he or she will need while away from home. Books, housing, or a laptop may be on your list, but what about a power of attorney?
Starting college often coincides with a child turning eighteen. At that point, you no longer have the authority to make decisions or respond to inquiries on your child’s behalf. In the eyes of the law, you become two independent adults. The following post is a look at why this matters.
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Why is Power of Attorney Important?
This is necessary to consider because accidents happen. It’s best to be prepared to respond should an emergency arise. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other privacy laws, prevent you from accessing information about your adult child’s medical care.
So, even if there are no health emergencies, you and your college-bound child are legally considered complete individuals. This means you won’t be able to access any information regarding grades or finances, even if you’re the one footing the bill.
This important document designates one or more individuals to handle financial decisions. It can grant permission to a parent to access college financial records, grades, bills, and more.
This is particularly useful if your child is studying abroad, or otherwise unable to attend to local matters. It allows you to act on his or her behalf; for example, communicating with landlords, paying bills, or signing tax returns.
Also known as a health care directive, it provides you with the power to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. In case of a medical emergency, this document designates one or more agents with the authority to consent to, or reject health care measures.
In some states, it includes HIPAA release language. Otherwise, you need a separate release form to have complete access to your child’s medical information. Medical professionals are not allowed to disclose a patient’s medical information without permission. Without a signed health care directive, you might need court approval to act on your adult child’s behalf.
Planning for the Future
While you probably still see your child as a kid, in the eyes of the law, you are both adults with no authority over one another. If your child is leaving for college, contact Lewman Law at (925) 447-1250 for help with your estate planning concerns.