Among the learning experiences for parents with children away at college is the fact that having reached the age of 18, your child is no longer your ward, and you are no longer your child’s legal guardian. That doesn’t mean that cannot pick up the tab for tuition, room and board, but you are not, as of right, entitled to see your child’s grades, and you are not, as of right, entitled to be informed of health issues confronting your child or to make medical decisions for your child.
The grade issue can be circumvented by interaction with your child. The health considerations are a little bit more complicated and require some forethought. The two documents that will assist you in being in position to help your child in medical emergencies, or even routine medical decisions, are a Health Care Proxy (which gives you the right to make “informed consent” decisions for your child) and the FICCA form (which gives you access to your child’s medical records). These documents are part of our standard Estate Planning package when we assist our clients with Estate Plans. We are now suggesting that the appropriate execution of these forms, and in certain instances, a durable Power of Attorney, become part of your checklist for sending your child away to college either in January or August.
We, at Topkins & Bevans, can prepare these forms for you, and explain their proper execution, for a minimal fee. We can do this work from Massachusetts, and you can execute them in your state as long as you acknowledge that the documents have been drafted in accordance with Massachusetts law. Please contact me to go over what is required, and how we can assist parents in this area. With the reticence that many medical institutions have developed to release medical information and records, the Health Care Proxy and HIPPA Form have become “don’t leave home without it” items.