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Publications | August 30, 2023
3 minute read

Planning Documents for College-aged Children

Most parents realize that once your child turns 18, you can no longer make medical or financial decisions for them, nor do you have legal access to your child’s educational, medical and financial information without their written consent.

Your college student probably gave you legal access to their educational information and tuition account by signing a Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) waiver when they registered for college. However, your child needs to create additional documents that will allow you to assist them with financial issues and medical or mental health issues that may arise while they are away.

Planning documents your adult child should have:

  • HIPAA Authorization – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) restricts medical providers from disclosing your adult child’s medical information to you. Your child should sign a general HIPAA authorization, giving you access to their medical information. This is especially important in the case of a child with ongoing medical or mental health issues.
  • Patient Advocate Designation – A parent cannot make health care decisions for a child over 18, even if the parent is providing the health insurance. Have your child sign a patient advocate designation giving a parent the authority to make health decisions for your child if they are unable to do so for themself. Again, this is especially important if your child has ongoing medical or mental health issues, or if parents are divorced.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – A parent cannot sign on behalf of their adult child or make financial decisions for that child, whether that child has capacity or not. Having your child sign a durable power of attorney allows you to handle financial matters if your child becomes incapacitated or is simply unavailable to handle the matters themself.

These three documents are created as part of Warner’s traditional estate planning for young adults. If your child has sizable assets of their own, they may also need to create a will or revocable trust to provide for the distribution of those assets upon death.

Here are a few other considerations if your child will be living away from home:

  • ICE Contact – Make sure you are listed as an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on your child’s cell phone. Critical medical information such as allergies and preexisting medical conditions can also be stored here. The ICE contact can be accessed by medical personnel in an emergency even without the password to unlock the phone.
  • Medical Records – Make sure your child has access to their medical history (medications, allergies, immunizations), ideally consolidated into an easily accessible document or on their phone.
  • Insurance – Understand how your medical, homeowner’s and auto insurance handles coverage for a child residing in another area or state. If your child will live in a leased home or apartment, they will need a renter’s insurance policy.
  • Proof of Identity – Make sure your child can easily access the documents needed to get an internship or job, either a valid passport or a birth certificate and social security card.

We can help you create some peace of mind by preparing the estate planning documents you need to provide the care and support you desire for your child. Contact your Warner attorney for help with these documents.

See our full checklist on planning for adult children here.