Once a child turns 18, parent access to medical information is not guaranteed. By putting the right legal documents in place before heading off to school, college-age children can get immediate input and help from parents if they have a health issue.
Sending your daughter or son off to school for the first time can be an emotion-filled experience. At this time of year, those of us with rising freshmen are starting to get mentally prepared for a new phase of life, as are our students. Travel plans, class selection, connecting with new roommates and college financing are likely among the top concerns. But if your adult child has a medical emergency while he or she is away at school, how would you handle it?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of medical records and information. Doctors and medical facilities are not permitted to disclose any information about patients without permission. As a result, parents of a student over the age of 18 who gets injured or becomes disabled might have difficulty obtaining medical information or helping with medical decisions. A parent may even need court approval to act on their adult child’s behalf.
You can mitigate ‘HIPAA risk’ by putting in place the following legal documents that are more commonly associated with estate planning for older folks:
Your son or daughter will need to meet with an attorney to properly execute these documents. We recommend doing this before school starts. A copy of the documents should be left with you, and your student should take a copy with them. The Dean of Students office should be able to suggest the best place for document safe keeping at the college or university.
Rob Kania is a Principal and Co-Founder of Laurentide Advisory