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) and Durable Powers of Attorney. 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 become part of your checklist for sending your child away to college in August.
Wherever you are located, we, at Topkins & Bevans, can either prepare these forms for you, and supervise their proper execution or locate someone in your state to do same, all for a minimal fee. With the reticence that many medical and educational institutions have developed to release information and records, the Health Care Proxy, HIPPA Form and Durable Powers of Attorney have become “don’t leave home without it” items. Don’t wait until you have a frantic child on the phone whom you really cannot help at all without the expense and frustration of climbing into a plane or your car to be there, in person!!!