After your child’s graduation from high school, you may be making plans for his or her transition into college. Housing, tuition and transportation are all common considerations. But the title of this article might have caught you off guard. Estate planning? For college?
If your child is turning 18, more is changing than a move into a dorm room. When children turn 18, in most states they are no longer considered a minor under the law. This means that, as a parent, you may no longer have certain rights where your child is concerned. An 18-year-old gains a right to privacy that even a parent cannot overcome in some situations.
One thing that is important before your child leaves for college is to sign a HIPAA release. HIPAA is acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which is a long name for a law that protects a person’s medical information. Without a HIPAA release which gives you written permission for access to your now “adult” child’s medical information, medical personnel may be prevented by law from giving you information about your child.
Once a HIPAA release is signed, the medical facility at the college your child attends should be given a copy. You and your child should also each keep a copy.
Other documents that may be useful while you child is away at college include a power of attorney that gives you the right to make financial decisions for your child. And, while no one wants to think of such dire consequences when a young person is entering an exciting new phase of their life, a living will may be useful if your child is in a life-and-death situation. If there is no document in place, decisions could be made without your input.
Up until a few years ago, you could be fairly certain that your child would be safe at college. But with the rash of violence that has been occurring on college campuses over the last several years, it is wise to plan for the unimaginable. In the worst possible scenario, at least you and your child will have some peace of mind knowing that you will have the right to participate in any decisions that they cannot make for themselves.