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Legal Documents and College Students

| Jun 16, 2018 | Other |

Before your student goes off to college, make sure you have all your legal ducks in a row. Once your student becomes 18 years of age, you may not have certain legal abilities, such as medical proxy or power of attorney, without correct documentation. So what legal documents may be a good idea? Many of these suggestions are precautions, and may not be a necessity for your individual situation. However, should an emergency situation arise, you may want to have these documents already in place.

Health Care Proxy

If your child is away at college and finds themselves in a medical emergency situation, a health care proxy would allow their parents or legal guardians the ability to speak on their behalf if they are unable to do so. It isn’t an easy conversation to go over health care and medical decisions, regardless of age, but it’s better to be safe and prepared. Health care proxy can be established by a medical power of attorney or living will.

In general, a medical power of attorney will allow the named agent to be informed by medical professionals about their student’s medical and mental health records, if needed. [1] However, for anyone other than the named agent to have access to such records, a signed HIPAA form would be required. So the personal representative needs to be chosen with care.

Power of Attorney

Similar to a health care proxy, a power of attorney grants the parents, legal guardian, or other named individual the right to act on the student’s behalf. Instead of medical decisions, a power of attorney generally affects financial situations. There are two options: a durable power of attorney or an access authorization form. The power of attorney is prepared by a lawyer, while the authorization form is typically prepared by the banking institution where your student’s accounts are held.

A Will or Trust

An entire will for your college student may not be required. Unless your student already owns real estate or other property, or is the beneficiary of a trust, then they are unlikely to have enough assets to make a will necessary. However, a properly drawn will won’t be harmful. If you or your student desires the security of a will, then you may want to speak to a lawyer for advice. A trust is unlikely to be necessary for someone so young; if one is necessary, seek legal advice.

If you or your student are unsure about what’s needed, a lawyer will be able to give you qualified advice.

[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/3000/does-having-health-care-power-attorney-allow-access-patients-medical-mental-health-records-under-hipaa/index.html