Your child has selected a college. In no time, your child will be starting classes. Because he or she will technically be living at home (home over holidays and summers), perhaps still on your insurance, and possibly still driving one of your cars, it doesn’t really feel as if they’re off to adulthood, does it?
At age 18, under the law, they are adults. (For children with disabilities, the age of majority might differ.) They are legally no longer under your dominion. They might even balk at that, since they are driving your car, to your house, covered by your insurance. Regardless, they are legal adults. And, as young adults heading off to college, they should have three critical documents: a HIPAA release, a healthcare power of attorney, and a financial power of attorney. (In Ohio, some of these documents overlap.)
Many parents are genuinely shocked to learn that, when they call the hospital where they learn their daughter has been taken after being hurt, the hospital won’t release much information to the parents. She might still seem like your young child, but she’s an adult now and the hospital needs a HIPAA release in order to provide you with information. Or, the bank won’t permit you to access your son’s accounts to break a lease, sign for loan or scholarship documents, etc. When I state “child” below, I am referring to an 18 year-old.
- HIPAA Authorization: most of us have heard of HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a federal law that, among other things, protects the medical privacy of patients. If you are 18 or older, medical providers, hospitals, etc. will not provide your private medical information to a third party without a release from you.
Your child would list people he or she wants to be granted access to his or her health information, and your child would sign it.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: a healthcare power of attorney grants the agent your child lists in the document with the power to make healthcare decisions for your child if he or she is unable to make them for yourself. If your son is in a car accident and the hospital can pursue different courses of treatment, it is the healthcare power of attorney who will make the decision on what to do. If there is no living will and end-of-life decisions must be made, it is the healthcare power of attorney who will make them. Additionally, if your child is receiving care you believe to be substandard, or you prefer treatment at a hospital you believe is better equipped to provide, you can choose to change hospitals (or doctors) if you are the agent in charge of your child’s healthcare.
Your child lists one agent and two successors, then signs the document in front of two witnesses or a notary (Ohio requirements).
Note: in Ohio, a HIPAA release is included in the most recent version of Ohio’s Healthcare Power of Attorney.
- General Durable Power of Attorney (Finances): a financial power of attorney permits the person the child names as agent to make financial decisions on the child’s behalf. If your child becomes incapacitated, whether it requires a lengthy hospital stay, or leg casts making it impossible to leave a house, a financial power of attorney permits the agent—likely you, the parent—to pay your child’s bills, enter or break a lease, manage bank accounts, pay taxes. Likewise, it permits the parents to discuss other housing issues, educational and financial institution matters.
Your child lists an agent and two successors, and signs the document in front of two witnesses and a notary (Ohio requirements).
I recommend these documents for kids going off to college so that a parent can step in when needed. Most attorneys offer these documents separately; and some attorneys offer them together as “New Adult” packages as I do.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to arrange for these documents before your child goes off to college.