The lists of supplies get longer ever year, from mini-fridge to gaming systems. But don’t neglect the legal documents your young adult will need when they turn 18 or go off to college. The thing is, when children turn 18, the law considers them to be adults. Once this happens, parents no longer have the same legal rights and privileges as when their children were minors.
The solution is to have several documents prepared to protect your ability to protect your offspring.
You’ll want a Financial Power of Attorney. This will allow you to be involved in your child’s financial life, including talking with representatives from the college concerning tuition and financial aid. If your child’s bank accounts are not jointly owned, the Financial Power of Attorney will give you the ability to manage their accounts.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a document you hope to never need, but if you do, you’ll be able to speak with physicians and other healthcare providers and make decisions on your child’s behalf if they are not able to do so.
You’ll need a HIPAA Release Form so you can access their medical records. Hospitals and healthcare providers are penalized when this federal law is ignored, so they are strict.
A basic Will is a difficult thing for a parent to consider, but if your child is of legal age and owns anything, from bank accounts to a car to anime NFTs, they should have a will. Without a will, their assets, however few or many, will be distributed according to the laws of the state. This is a longer process than if they have a will. It may not be a complicated document, but it is necessary.
A Living Will is also necessary, however hard to contemplate. If your child becomes seriously sick or is injured in an accident, the living will conveys their wishes for care. Do they want to be kept alive by artificial means? Would they want to be an organ donor? At what point would they wish life-support to be terminated? These are tough things for a 50 year old to consider, much less an 18-year old, but things happen and knowing their wishes will be better for all concerned.
The FERPA waiver – Family Education Rights and Privacy Act – gives parents the legal right to speak with school representatives concerning grades, academic records, disciplinary actions, counseling, and other issues taking place at the school. Parents who don’t have this form are often incensed when they learn they don’t have the right to speak with college representatives, especially parents who are paying for their child’s college costs.
The most difficult situations are when students experience severe emotional crises or are failing out of their courses. The school is legally not allowed to discuss these or other problems with parents, and parents are powerless.
A final note: whether your student is living on campus or off campus, it’s wise to make sure they have property insurance in place. Your homeowner’s insurance may provide coverage, or the school may have insurance in place. If your student is off campus, renters’ insurance should be obtained.
Having the correct documents in place allows parents to continue to be actively involved in their child’s well-being. It’s one more thing to add to the list but way too important to overlook.