Documents You Need When a Child Becomes a College Student

Most parents are surprised to learn they no longer have access to health care information for their college student.  At 18 years old, your child is legally an adult.  Parents also can no longer make legal decisions for them.  For a parent their child will always be their child, however a hospital or medical professional sees them as an adult.  They are prohibited from disclosing any health care information without the patient’s consent.

There are many stories of parents not hearing from their child for days only to find out the child has been in the hospital.  This was recently highlighted by a story in The Wall Street Journal.

When couples visit the Cortes Law Firm for their estate planning needs, we always ask them how many kids they have in college or that are over 18 years old and still dependent on them.  Nowadays, with all the HIPAA regulations and lawsuits it can be very difficult for a parent to get information about their adult child. If someone is an adult, then they need a plan in place.  So, we stress the importance of having college student sign the necessary documents to allow their parents to make necessary medical decisions.

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We recommend that all college students that are still dependent on their parents to have the following 3 health documents:

  1. Health Care Power of Attorney – just like a financial power of attorney does for finances, this does the same for medical decisions. This gives you the legal authority to speak with medical professionals on your child’s behalf.
  2. HIPAA Authorization – hospitals and medical professionals will not release your child’s health care information without one.  We recommend a blanket authorization giving parents access to all medical providers.
  3. Living Will – directs and specifies end of life medical treatments.

As a bonus, we also recommend a financial power of attorney that is effective upon incapacitation.  This can become important if your child has an accident or temporarily not able to make financial decisions.  Someone still needs to pay the rent and utilities, and a financial power of attorney can give parents access to necessary bank accounts.

We always offer these 4 documents to parents free of charge who are also having us prepare their estate planning documents.  However, we also offer these to any parent with a college student at a substantial discount.  If you have a child away at college, then they need protection and we are happy to help.  Please call the Cortes Law Firm estate planning attorneys, for a free consultation.  If you prefer, then you can also self-schedule an appointment at Becoming a Client above.

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