Do you have a child getting ready to head off to college? Whether your child goes away to school or commutes from home, don’t let them start the school year without leaving behind these three documents:
Medical Power of Attorney. If your child is over the age of 18, you no longer have the right to speak to their physicians, or make medical decisions for them. If your child has an accident or becomes seriously ill at school and is hospitalized, medical personnel will not discuss your child’s medical condition or treatment with you without authorization. Have your child sign a medical power of attorney. Commonly referred to as a “patient advocate designation,” your child can appoint you to speak with doctors and make medical treatment decisions for them in the event they cannot do so themselves.
HIPAA Authorization. Have your child sign a separate HIPAA authorization. A medical power of attorney will only help you and your child if your child is incapacitated AND in a hospital or similar facility. There may be situations where your child is either not incapacitated or is not hospitalized, but you still need to speak to medical providers on your child’s behalf regarding treatment he or she is receiving. A HIPAA authorization will enable you to talk to them or obtain medical records and other information regarding your child’s medical condition. You may not be able to make treatment decisions for your child, but you can at least monitor their care. Remember, even though you are the parent, medical providers will not speak or release information to you without your child’s prior consent, regardless of your child’s medical condition.
Durable Power of Attorney. Finally, have your child sign a durable power of attorney. Parents of college students have all heard the privacy speech from school administrators – “Due to federal privacy regulations, we cannot discuss anything regarding your student without prior written authorization” – and they mean it. In order for you to discuss a tuition or dorm bill, dispute a lab fee, or discuss any of your child’s financial or other affairs with any third party, you need written authorization. That’s where the durable power of attorney comes in to play.
Under a durable power of attorney, your child can appoint you as their agent to handle their personal and financial and other non-medical affairs, whether they are incapacitated or not. Everything from banking and bill paying to tuition or room and board issues can be handled by you as your child’s agent. If your child becomes ill or has an accident while at school, as your child’s agent you will be able to keep their affairs in order until they regain the ability to do so.
Make sure you and your child are prepared for the coming school year by making sure they leave behind a medical power of attorney, HIPAA authorization, and durable power of attorney. Good luck!
Does your student need these documents? Give me a call. I can help.