Back to School: An Education on Parenting from Afar

September 1, 2022 | Wendy Hoey Sheinberg | Trusts & Estates

By now, your college-age kids have decorated their dorm rooms and collected every class syllabus (although whether they’ve read them is a different issue). While you may long for the days when you were an integral part of their daily lives, your job is far from over. You can still protect your kids and your own peace of mind by making sure they have the following items.

  • Health insurance cards
  • Proof of COVID vaccination and booster shots
  • Excelsior app (digital proof of vaccination for New York state) on your child’s phone
  • Health care app installed in your child’s phone
  • A designated emergency contact in your child’s phone and health app
  • A list of serious health conditions and medications in the health app
  • For children with life-threatening health conditions, consider an item of medical alert jewelry
  • Portable phone charger
  • Family tracking app installed, with the child’s consent, on his or her phone
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency kit for the car

In addition, every student should have a healthcare proxy. Due to healthcare privacy laws (commonly known as HIPAA) medical providers cannot share health information about people aged 18 or over with anyone except those designated by the patient. With a healthcare proxy, if your young-adult children should become incapacitated or seriously ill while at college for any reason, you or the person they designate can speak to medical professionals on their behalf. And, while you’re at it, have your children sign a HIPAA Authorization, giving you access to their medical records.

If your children own assets, they should consider signing a Will. If your children have specific wishes about life-sustaining treatment, there are legal ways to document those wishes.

To advocate for your children in areas beyond healthcare, legal documents must be completed. The following are the most important.

Power of Attorney: This document gives a designated agent the power to take specific, non-medical, actions. Under a power of attorney, you children can designate you to manage their financial decisions, to access records, and take other non-medical actions on their behalf.

FERPA Waiver: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), requires schools to safeguard the confidentiality of education records. You have no right to your children’s academic records once they reach age 18 (even if you are paying the college tuition). Most schools have their own FERPA Waiver form, which can be completed and signed by your children.

Non-Driver Identification: Life has changed, and government-issued photo identification is needed for everything from opening a bank account to boarding an airplane. Your children’s best bet is to have REAL ID-compliant identification such as an enhanced driver’s license or ID card.

Although your college-age kids may insist they are adults, many children still want parental assistance. Taking care of issues before they become problems shows your children the importance of being proactive and planning so that they can avoid problems.

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