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Before Sending Your Child Off to College

Before Sending Your Child Off to College

September 03, 2022

The end of summer is often about more than soaking up those last rays of warm sunshine. For many families, it’s about sending their young adult children off to college.

At One Financial Services, we know how important these times are to our client’s families. All those years of planning and saving have brought you to this milestone moment.

However, there is still an important piece of planning you should consider. Once your child turns eighteen, they are a legal adult. So, in most circumstances, you, as a parent of that college-aged child are no longer authorized to obtain information about their medical care or finances. For that reason, we suggest that you consult with your young adult regarding signing a Power of Attorney and Advance Directive for Health Care. 

Leaving the nest is an exciting time of newfound independence, but it can also be a time of experimentation and challenges. In the unlikely event of an emergency, your adult children may still want or need you to have the authority to act on their behalf. 

The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) was created to protect the privacy of medical records and restrict access to an individual’s personal medical information.  Through an Advance Directive for Health Care, a person, in this case, your adult child, appoints someone as their Health Care Representative and grants that Representative access to medical records and the authority to make medical decisions for them in the event they are unable to communicate. Without this document, medical professionals, including those at a school infirmary, will not be authorized to discuss medical care with you. Without a designated Health Care Representative, you may be forced to petition a court to be granted authority to make decisions for your child. Taking the time to execute an Advance Directive will preclude this problem. 

Another document, equally as important as the Advance Directive for Health Care is a Durable Power of Attorney. This allows the Agent named in the document, which for your college-aged child would typically be you or another parent, to access bank accounts and act for them in any legal matters. While your child may be very responsible, it is good planning to consider what would happen to your child’s affairs in the event of an emergency.  A Power of Attorney gives you, the parent, the ability to write checks, pay bills, and otherwise step in and manage affairs for your child, should the need arise. 

So, while you and your college student are working on that back-to-school checklist, consider adding a line item to discuss completing these two very important documents. Your One Financial Services advisor will be pleased to participate in that conversation. After all, our clients are family.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.