As hard as it may be to believe, August is upon us, which means that many of our clients’ children are going to be headed to college, some for the first time. As such, we thought it would be a good time to remind parents of the importance of certain legal documents to allow them to obtain information and assist a child in the event of an unexpected emergency.
Though your child will always be your baby, once they turn 18 they are considered adults in the eyes of the law. This means that, as a parent, you no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on your child’s behalf or to access their medical or educational information without permission. Assuming your child wants you to be able to assist with financial and medical decisions in an emergency and/or would want you to be able to speak with their health care providers and school, here are five things your child should do before they go away to college:
Sign a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney appoints one or more individuals to act on your child’s behalf with respect to financial matters without obtaining the approval of a court. By signing a Durable Power of Attorney granting one or both parents the legal authority to act on their behalf, your child is allowing you to deal with many legal and financial matters, such as banking snafus and tax issues, as well as to obtain access to information on credit cards and bank accounts.
Sign a Health Care Proxy. A Health Care Proxy designates a person to make health care decisions for your child if your child is are unable to communicate those decisions themself without obtaining the approval of a court. By signing a Health Care Proxy naming you as their health care agent, your child is allowing you to obtain medical information about, and make health care decisions for, them in the event they have a serious health issue and are unable to make their own health care decisions.
Sign a HIPPA Authorization. A HIPPA Authorization permits the release of your child’s protected medical information by their health care providers to the people listed in the document. By signing a HIPAA Authorization listing one or both parents, your child is allowing their health care providers to speak with you about their medical condition even if your child is still able to make their own health care decisions. This can come in handy if your child is in the school infirmary for a minor medical issue or is hospitalized with a more serious condition but still able to make their own decisions.
Sign a FERPA Authorization. A FERPA Authorization permits the release of your child’s protected academic and financial information by their college or university to the people listed in the document. By signing a FERPA Authorization listing one or both parents, you child is allowing their college or university to speak with you about their academic and financial information, which may include, for example, information about courses, financial aid, tuition, and disciplinary matters.
Attend Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC’s College Document Bootcamp. If your child is looking for a convenient way to get all of the documents discussed in this article done before going away to college, they should sign up for our first ever College Document Bootcamp, which includes:
A Zoom webinar discussing these documents in more detail on August 11th;
A personal meeting via Zoom on either August 12th or August 16th with Attorney Megan Bartholomew where she will discuss your child’s specific situation with them and the provisions of the documents she will create for them; and
An in-person meeting with Attorney Bartholomew on August 19th, 20th, or 21st for your child to sign their documents.
The Zoom presentation on August 11th is free and open to everyone, but pre-registration is required. There is a fee of $550.00 for the other two meetings (including document preparation) and space is limited. See the flyer included with this article for more information. Of course, if your child can’t make the Bootcamp, they can always call our office to set up a separate appointment to discuss the preparation of their documents with Attorney Bartholomew or one of our other attorneys.
If your child is interested in participating in the Bootcamp or having their documents prepared, please have them call our office at 781/461-1020 or email Victoria Ung at email@example.com.
Francis R. Mulé is a senior associate attorney with the Dedham firm of Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC which focuses on advising its clients in the areas of estate planning, estate settlement, and elder law matters. He is an active member, and the current Chair-Elect, of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. For more information visit www.ssbllc.com or call 781/461-1020.