Sending Your Kids off to College When You’re No Longer the Boss of Them

July 1, 2019 | Wendy Hoey Sheinberg | Trusts & Estates

It seems like five minutes ago you were teaching your children to play peek-a-boo, and now you’re sending them off to college. Along with laptops, textbooks and dorm furnishings, there’s one item no student should be without – a healthcare proxy.

Why might college students need this legal document, intended to help loved ones make medical and end-of-life decisions? Due to healthcare privacy laws (commonly known as HIPAA) medical providers cannot share health information about people age 18 or over with anyone, unless the patient designates representatives to receive that information. So, if your young-adult children should become incapacitated while at college for any reason, the college’s student health office or local hospital would not be able to share information about their medical status with you.

A healthcare proxy gives you the right to speak to medical professionals on your children’s behalf. And, while you’re at it, have your children sign a HIPAA Authorization, giving you access to their medical records.

If you plan on continuing to advocate for your children in areas beyond healthcare, there are certain legal documents that must be completed to provide them with ongoing support beyond their 18th birthday.

Power of Attorney: 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 should have a New York State Driver’s licenses/ Non-Driver Identification Cards. Beginning on October 1, 2020; the federal government will require REAL ID-compliant identification for domestic flights. Enhanced driver’s licenses/ID cards and passport cards are Real ID compliment.

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 empowerment of being proactive and planning to avoid problems and that, even if you are no longer the boss of them, you are the most valuable player on their team.[1]

[1] In addition, 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.

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