Important Documents to Have for your College-Bound Child/Grandchild

Important Documents to Have for your College-Bound Child/Grandchild

by Mike Jette on Sep 25, 2018

Do you have the right to make healthcare decisions if your college-age child is sick or injured?

It can come as an unpleasant surprise in a time of crisis that parents can no longer make legal decisions for a child when they turn 18. They cannot receive information about them that is considered private,unless they have the child’s permission. Imagine a child away at college having a serious medical problem. Parents cannot get details of their child’s medical condition and no longer have the legal ability to make decisions regarding the child’s treatment! Families approaching this milestone can take the initiative to put some very important documents in place to help with this and other issues.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article1 four documents were highlighted as the primary ones a family needs as a child approaches leaving the nest:

  1. Health-Care Power of Attorney – Also known as a health-care proxy, this document gives parents the legal authority to make decisions about their child’s health care if the child is incapable of doing so. If the child will be going to school in another state it may be prudent to have this document drafted for both states.
  2. HIPAA Authorization – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that sets rules for health care providers and health plans about who can look at and receive your health information, including family members and friends. This document allows doctors to speak about a child’s medical condition to whomever the student chooses.
  3. Financial Power of Attorney –With a valid financial power of attorney for finances and property a parent should be able to access the child’s bank accounts and financial records, pay rent, utilities and credit card bills, manage investments and loans and so on.
  4. Education Record Release – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires written consent before grades, transcripts and disciplinary records can be shared with parent. All students have the right to sign a waiver — and in most colleges it is as easy as clicking on a page on the school website — permitting parents access to their school records.

If the child is in college out of state, you may need two sets of documents—one prepared according to your home state's laws, and one that follows the laws of the state where the child is attending school

For more information: 



1 Ms. Winokur Munk, WSJ 12/11/2017, Documents That You Need When a Child Turns 18