If you are about to send a child off to college or to a gap-year program, you’re probably busy with last-minute shopping, packing and worrying about roommates. Here’s one more thing you should do as you prepare for the big separation: Ask this young adult to sign a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy and medical information releases.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
It can give the student’s parent the authority to sign documents on the student’s behalf and give the parent access to and direct transactions for the student’s financial accounts. You can either execute a durable general power of attorney, or you can sign an access authorization form prepared by the financial firm that holds each of the student’s accounts. Either way, having one will give you the legal authorization to assist your student.
HEALTH CARE PROXY AND LIVING WILL
They allow a parent to make medical decisions if the student is physically unable to do so. Don’t find out too late that your student has been admitted to a hospital and you’re not authorized to discuss treatment plans or make urgent decisions regarding care. A living will outlines the student’s wishes about life-extending medical treatment and addresses other intentions, such as organ donations.
This form authorizes medical care providers to release and share medical information about the student to parents. Without it, health providers are legally prohibited from sharing this information even with a student’s family members. If a student attends college out of state, fill out the forms relevant to the home state and school state to avoid any challenges. If the school has its own form, sign that one too. When the doctor or medical institution sees it, you want them to be familiar with it and recognize it.
Once the forms are completed, it’s a good idea to scan and save them so that they are readily available on a smartphone or home computer. Parents and students should also talk about privacy and under what scenarios these documents would be used. Parents whose health insurance covers their students should check with the insurance company to see what processes need to be followed if the student goes to school out of state or abroad.