As Your Child Heads Off To College…
. . . are they legally prepared? They have purchased new bedding, a computer, a fridge and all the stuff they will need for their dorm room. They have chosen a roommate and now they are ready to start a new chapter in their lives. For many, this will be their first taste of true independence, and at 18, they are now legal adults. That means you, as their parents, are no longer entitled to access their accounts or information without their permission. Be forewarned, colleges are under no obligation to share information with parents, notwithstanding that the parents are financially funding their child’s education.
Whether they travel hours away or are closer to home, every child should have a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. This fundamental document would enable parents to obtain access to information about their child and their accounts. As their agent, parents would have the legal authority to obtain important school information (such as enrollment, grades and attendance), have power to access their bank accounts or other financial records (including loans and grants) and generally act on the child’s behalf while they are away. Hopefully your child doesn’t run into legal trouble, but if that were to occur the power of attorney would allow you, as their agent, to obtain essential facts and records and to advocate on their behalf.
In addition to the Durable Financial Power of Attorney, your child should also have a Health Care Power of Attorney/Advance Directive. This is crucial in the event your child has a health issue or accident. While Pennsylvania has a law (the Health Care Representative statute) that empowers a parent to make medical decisions for their child, every state doesn’t necessarily have the same or similar laws. The last thing a parent needs in an emergency is to navigate another state’s laws to gain access to their child’s condition. Federal HIPPA laws protect an individual’s personal health information, and absent a grant of authority, hospitals and other medical facilities are going to be prohibited from sharing that information. In addition to emergent situations, the Health Care Power of Attorney also would give parents the ability to make medical appointments for their child when he or she returns home for break or to obtain a copy of their medical records to supply to their school.
Our Estate attorneys can assist your adult child with the preparation of these documents, so feel free to call us for help.
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