DON’T LET THEM LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THESE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Important documents to cover you and your dependent child over 18. To you, they will always be your kids. To the rest of the world—particularly the medical, banking, legal, and academic communities—they are adults the day they turn 18. If something happens while they are hundreds of miles away, your rights and access to your young adult’s medical records and other personal information are now just as off-limits to you as a complete stranger’s.
This issue hit close to home when I was getting my barely eighteen year old son settled for his freshman year at a major university. As part of his college orientation, he registered at the health clinic where he was asked to sign a variety of forms. When I asked to review the forms prior to his signature, I was denied. I requested they use the HIPPA form I brought with me, rather than theirs, I was denied again. At this time, they insisted on meeting with him alone where they advised him to not sign the HIPPA form. My son and I have a close relationship and he signed the HIPPA form enabling me to act on his behalf if, heaven forbid, he should become unable to act on his own behalf.
It may also come as a complete shock to your college freshman that his parents can’t step in, as in years past, and simply take care of things for him if he is traveling or unconscious without prior consent and the correct paperwork in place.
If your dependent child is at college or in transition to the “real world,” you’ll both want to be prepared and legally covered for any eventuality. Fortunately, with a bit of planning and a few signed documents, everyone can enjoy peace of mind.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires written consent from students who are 18 or older (attending a school that receives U.S. Dept. of Education funds) before grades, transcripts, and disciplinary records can be shared with others. This includes parents. Your student must sign a FERPA Release if you want access to his academic records.
• The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) restricts the release of an adult’s medical information to only those who are named in a written HIPPA Compliant Release Form. The release can set limits on what information is shared or take the form of a blanket authorization. A full blanket authorization allows access to all medical information, which is best in emergencies where your son’s or daughter’s condition may be unknown. Retain a copy of the signed document within easy access so you can produce it quickly for medical providers.
• A Florida Durable Power of Attorney, or healthcare proxy, is a legal document that gives you the ability to make decisions about your child’s healthcare. It generally doesn’t become effective unless your child is incapacitated or unable to make her own medical decisions. Different states have different requirements as to document contents and if it must be notarized.
• A Living Will, or advance directive, speaks to the unspeakable. In the event of a tragedy, this document spells out your son’s or daughter’s wishes regarding end of life decisions such as organ donation or withholding life-extending medical treatments.
• Many colleges allow parents to access financial aid, tuition, housing and meal plan account records with a simple permission form, or it may be included in a FERPA consent form. A joint checking account or credit card shared by you and your student is the easiest way to have access to financial transaction information.
• Your student can sign a Durable Power of Attorney, which will allow you to manage his affairs if he is out of the country, becomes incapacitated, or for any other reason. This document gives permission for you to sign documents, access bank accounts, handle property issues, and generally act in his stead for a specified period. The Power of attorney can be limited to only certain types of transactions or give full access.
DON’T BE CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Having these documents properly drawn, executed, and easily accessible is a relatively simple matter that can make all the difference in an unexpected situation. Consider this a teaching moment and spend some time discussing these documents with your child. The earlier your son or daughter learns about adult responsibility and risk management, the earlier he or she can begin to formulate a sound financial plan for life. Don’t go it alone. Contact Bob Rubin, Rubin Wealth Advisors, today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss strategies for and with your young adult.