It is that time of year, parents of college bound children are gearing up to send them off to school. Parents are shopping to make sure their college student has everything he or she needs for their time away from home. But what many parents often overlook is ensuring that they have the proper legal documents in place for their college bound children. When a child is ready to go to college, they are at least 18 years of age which means they are a legal adult. As a legal adult, they have legal responsibilities; but once a child is a legal adult, the parents’ rights are dramatically diminished. Just because a parent is providing financial support, it does not mean that the parents have any rights to medical or other information related to the child.
For example, from a medical standpoint, if something happens to your child while they are away at college, as parents, you have no legal rights to your children’s medical information. In the event your child has medical issues while away at school, the parents are often kept in the in dark about the child’s condition. There are the horror stories of the difficulties parents must go through to get the information. In order to avoid these unnecessary difficulties it is strongly recommended that parents obtain an advance medical directive and a general durable power of attorney for their college bound children.
The advance medical directive will allow you to obtain medical information and to talk to the medical professionals treating your child. The general durable power of attorney will allow you to handle your child’s financial issues, such as college tuition. If there were some type of accident, these documents would allow you to handle your child’s affairs above and beyond medical. It could be dealing with a financial institution or even with their university. Once again, if there was some sort of accident and your child could not handle his/her own affairs, having a general durable power of attorney would allow you to step in without getting judges, courts and lawyers involved.
If you have someone headed off to college, you will want to consider obtaining both an advance medical directive and a general durable power of attorney for your child.