When preparing to send a child to college, there are a lot of things to think about. First, there is finding the right school. But then you have the application process, the aid application process, the supplies, the classes, and the coordination of it all.
What can be lost during this time, however, is the simple, yet profound fact that your 18 year-old “child” is now a legal adult. So while you may be picking up their bills as if they are still your baby, certain aspects of their lives will no longer fall under your control.
Case in point is health care. Although your adult child is more than likely still eligible for coverage on your insurance plan, under HIPPA rules they are considered an adult and without proper authorization you have as much a right to their health records or decision-making as I do: none. As part of the college preparation you may want to consider speaking with an estate planning attorney about a healthcare power of attorney. This would allow your child to name you as health care agent(s) so you can speak to health professionals if they are unable to do so.
Make sure you keep one copy of the power of attorney at home and give one to the child to keep at school. It may also be prudent to provide a copy to their current primary care doctor and the school’s health clinic. And it might be worth keeping an electronic version handy to email to a hospital or physician on short notice.
This is also a good reminder to check out the many free tools and calculators on my website, including a College Savings calculator.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified legal advisor.