College Prep: 5 Documents Your Child Should Sign to Protect Their Privacy & Health
It happens every August—young adults go off to a college or university as freshmen, ready for a new adventure. You may be happy for them but worried about their health and well-being.
Will you be able to speak with your child’s doctors if an unexpected health emergency happens? Not if your child is age 18 and you don’t have the right legal documents in place. We offer this overview on why you need to have six crucial documents signed by your child before or soon after he or she heads off to a college or university.
Q: What will happen if I don’t have the forms in place?
A: If your child is 18, he or she is considered to be of legal age and no longer a minor. What that means is that you will likely be denied access to their educational, mental and medical health records in an emergency situation. It doesn’t matter if your child is on your insurance. While insurance covers medical costs, it doesn’t give you access to doctors and other health care professionals to make decisions on your child’s behalf. Also, because of U.S. privacy laws, your child’s educational and health records are protected while they are on and off campus.
Q: What is the first release my child should sign?
A: Perhaps the most important form to have your child sign before they enroll is a HIPAA form, which you can find online. In addition, each university has a school HIPAA form students sign. This as an extra measure to protect students’ privacy. Both universities and medical providers use these forms to legally protect themselves by protecting the rights of students. Your child should log onto the student health website, where he or she is most likely to find the form online. If not, have him or her complete it once on campus. Have your child then scan and email you a copy of the release for your records. Having a HIPPA release allows you to speak with health care providers and have access to your child’s medical records.
Q: What do I need to tell my health insurance provider?
A: Assuming your child is on your insurance plan, you will also want to speak with your insurance representative and ask if the insurance company also needs to have a HIPAA form on file. Depending on whether your student is studying in-state or out-of-state, you will need to mention this, because the insurance company’s coverage and forms may vary depending on location.
Q: What is the second and third documents my child should sign?
A: When your child leaves home for the first time, it’s possible he or she could experience a mental health crisis such as severe depression. Or, if your child already has a psychiatric diagnosis and is on medication for it, you will want to create a psychiatric advanced directive. If your student is attending college out-of-state, you’ll want to have one on file in your home state and in the state where the university is located. Each state varies in what is included within this document.
When this document is in place, should your child have a psychiatric emergency, the person they assigned (you, in this case) will be able to make health care decisions on his or her behalf. The document also allows your child to identify a treatment team and what types of care he or she wants.
In addition, your child should be able to log in to the university’s platform to complete a Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) waiver. If your child can’t find it, have him or her reach out to the registrar’s office for assistance. By signing this privacy waiver and listing your names, you will have access to your child’s transcripts, GPA, academic probation, any disciplinary records, and all things related to financial aid.
Q: What is the fourth and fifth document I should have in place?
A: Creating a health-care proxy, also referred to as medical power of attorney, will allow you to make medical decisions on behalf of your child should he or she be incapacitated and unable to do so. An example would be if your child had a car accident and was in a coma. You need to have this document in advance, otherwise you won’t have access to knowing about or contributing to your child’s medical care. While you hope you’ll never need it, it helps to be proactive. While you don’t need a lawyer to create this document, you will need a state-specific form for the state where your child is studying.
A fifth document to have in place is a durable power of attorney (DPOA), which is different than the medical power of attorney. This form allows you access to bank accounts, credit cards, to file a tax return, renew a car registration, etc. should your child be unable to take care of these things.
Work With Your Wealth Team
At Mariner Wealth Advisors, we have an estate planning team in-house who can work with you, your wealth advisor and your estate planning attorney should you prefer to have some of these legal documents drafted by an attorney, versus finding them online. We’re here for everything life brings your way, including sending your child off to a university knowing you’ve preplanned to help protect their health and well-being.
For more on this topic, check out our podcast on how to keep your kids financially literate.
“Six Forms You Really Want Signed Before Your Student Enrolls in College”
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