4 Documents Parents Will Want their Adult Kids to Sign Before Leaving for College

Posted by Charlotte Davis | Aug 14, 2023

Sending a child off to college can be an emotional time.  There is a blend of excitement, nostalgia, and apprehension.  Kids often feel excited about this new phase of life. Parents feel nostalgic over their baby growing up. And both parents and kids feel apprehension and concern over the physical distance between the parents and child, and the unknown challenges the new college student might face.

But sending your child off with certain paperwork in place can bring peace of mind. 

There are four key documents that ensure that parents are able to monitor and protect their adult children, should they need it.

Signed HIPAA Release Form

A HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release form is important because it ensures the privacy and security of an individual's protected health information, while allowing the sharing of this information with designated individuals of the patient's choosing. This information includes a person's medical records, treatment history, test results, and other sensitive health-related information.

Because a college student is typically an adult, his parents no longer have automatic access to his protected health information. Your child can grant permission to share his or her information with you with a HIPAA release form.  The form can even specify certain health care information they do not want shared, or grant blanket access to health information.

Signed Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney, health care proxy, or a health care directive (different states call it by different names) allows a designee to make health care decisions on behalf of another person, should that person be unable to make them him or herself.  This is an important document to have handy should there be a health emergency with your child and a medical provider needs to know how to proceed.  Your child can designate you or another trusted adult as his or her health care power of attorney with this form.  Your child will want to designate someone he or she trusts to act according to his values.

Signed Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney gives a designee permission to make financial decisions for another person, should that person become temporarily or permanently incapable of managing his or her own affairs.  This document is helpful should your child become unable to pay bills or access bank accounts, as the document allows someone your child trusts to be able to do these things for him or her.  If something were to happen to your child, you or another trusted person would need to be able to quickly step in and handle your child's finances, which can only be done through a power of attorney.

FERPA Waiver

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records, but these rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.  So, most colleges and universities can not give parents access to their child's grades or other personal information unless the student specifically signs a consent form allowing the parents access. This is true even if the parents are footing the bill for the education. 

If you want to have access to your child's academic information, your child would need to sign a FERPA Waiver in order for the college to grant you access, and the form needs to be on file with the college or university that your child attends (though you should keep a copy for yourself too).

If you want to learn more about any of these forms, or have them prepared for you or your adult child, schedule a 15-minute consultation with us to discuss your needs.  We offer a flat fee for our "Off to College" documents to make sure your adult child is always protected.

About the Author

Charlotte Davis

Charlotte Davis brings 20 years of professional experience to Harpeth Estate Law, which she started to help clients set up estate plans that provide for their loved ones and their legacy after death.

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