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How to Make Decisions for your College Student

From time to time, we are asked how our clients can be involved in assisting their college-age children, and have access to information from the college or university.

Once your child turns 18, he or she is no longer considered a minor. As a result, you no longer have the legal right to make certain decisions that could affect health care and financial issues for your college-age student.

We recommend that every child who reaches the age of 18, particularly those enrolled at a college or university, have a durable financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, living will, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) consent, and a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act consent (FERPA).

The durable financial power of attorney will allow you, as a named agent, to make financial decisions on your college student’s behalf when necessary. The power of attorney should have very broad powers, such as the authority to sign tax returns and even to sign documents related to the university or college.

The healthcare power of attorney will allow you to make major healthcare decisions on the student’s behalf. Imagine that your child, over 2000 miles away from you, sustains a major injury and is in the hospital. You frantically attempt to find out information about his injuries and healthcare decisions.

You connect with the hospital, but without the necessary healthcare power and HIPAA consent, the hospital cannot give you any information. Equally important, the hospital will not allow you to make any healthcare decisions on behalf of your child. This is resolved with a healthcare power of attorney, living will, and HIPAA consent.

Finally, the FERPA authorization allows you access to your son or daughter’s private information that is otherwise protected within the university or college system. For example, without the FERPA consent, you are not allowed to talk to educators about your son or daughter’s progress, reasons why they may not be succeeding, and other issues.

In summary, in order to help your college-age student be involved in their education and be allowed to make major decisions with and for them, it is very important that you have these documents.

Louis Silverman is a Tempe-based attorney, board certified by the State Bar of Arizona in estate planning, probate and trust law. For information, call (480) 491-3216 or email him at lou@silvermanlawpc.com. Visit his website at silvermanlawpc.com.

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