Do you have a child attending college this fall or has recently turned 18 years of age? If so, you may be surprised to learn that while you may be footing the bills, your child is now a legal adult with rights to their own privacy, decision-making, etc.

This means you have no legal right to any of their “Private” information without their consent.

Would you like to know your child’s grades, attendance, disciplinary history, etc., while at college? You will need your child’s written authorization.

What would happen if your child is injured or becomes sick? Who is authorized to make health care decisions for your child? Unless your child has granted you that power, you may be forced to seek a Guardianship through Probate Court. If your child is attending school out-of-state, the proper Court may be located in another state.

What about the myriad issues in your adult child’s financial world? Unless your child has granted you a power of attorney, you will not be able to get information or act on behalf of your child.

How can you avoid these issues?

Some basic documents signed by your adult child may save you from hassle, frustration, needless expense and provide you with peace of mind.

Your adult child should execute the following:

HIPAA Waiver
Under federal law, certain important health care information cannot be disclosed to family and friends, no matter the circumstances. In an emergency situation, this can cause a problem for parents attempting to receive basic health care information regarding their adult child. By signing the HIPAA Waiver, your adult child is granting you access to his or her medical information.

Healthcare Power of Attorney
If a situation arises and your adult child is unable to make his or her own health care decisions, it may be difficult and time consuming for you to eventually be able to make a decision on behalf of him or her. However, if your adult child signs a Healthcare Power of Attorney authorizing you to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if he or she is unable to, you would show this to the attending physician and immediately be able to make the decision for your adult child.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Situations may arise where you need to access your adult child’s financial information or may need to make a financial decision for your adult child. Your adult child may sign a Financial Power of Attorney, which authorizes you to make these decisions on his or her behalf. Once this document is shown to the financial institution, you would be able to take action on behalf of your adult child.

Each of these documents authorizes someone to act on behalf of the child if something “bad” happens.

All the best to you and your new college student!
Charles H. McClenaghan