Back to School: One More Thing Your College Student Needs

The day has finally come. You’ve paid your child’s semester tuition, packed the car, and given them your final “words of wisdom” as you send them on their way to college.

As we prepared to send our eldest daughter off to college, we thought we’d prepared her with everything. All of her books were ordered, we had shopped endlessly for just the right dorm room decorations, and the car was all gassed up. After 18 years under our guidance, we thought we could still help from afar if anything happened, right? Perhaps not!

If you have not executed a Power of Attorney for your now ‘adult’ (18 years of age) student, you may run into some difficulties. With regards to health issues that may come up, many states do not authorize parents to have any access to their health information without written consent. So, if your child becomes ill or hospitalized, you may not be able to help at all. While some campuses proactively seek consent/release from their students, such documentation may only apply for on campus health care – and may not be helpful for a local hospital or health care provider.

This issue hit close to home when we sent our oldest daughter off to college which was a 10 hour drive away. When she went to the doctor for a minor illness, we quickly realized that any questions we asked were deflected. We needed her consent to even talk with a doctor. We hastily worked with our attorney to prepare a health care power of attorney; this enabled us to help our daughter should anything else unfortunate happen while she was away at school – whew!

So before your child heads off to college, seek out an attorney to draft and prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney for your child to sign. As much as we hate thinking about it, this document grants you the right to act on his/her behalf should something unfortunate happen. You’ll need this ‘power’ even if you simply want to inquire about their medical situation and/or act as their advocate – the role you’ve played for so many years.

And, while you are at it, consider having your child sign a Financial Power of Attorney, granting you financial rights.  That way you can participate in choices that may be foreign to them, effect transactions on their behalf, or act in their place in the event of an emergency.

Remember, your child will have enough stress as they enter a whole new environment – new roommate, new teachers, new classrooms, new peer pressures. So make their transition as easy as possible by providing a ‘safety net’ – you, as their Power of Attorney.


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