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Have These Documents Prepared for a Child Headed to College

“There are documents pertaining to health, money, and college records, that your child can sign to give you some peace of mind. Not all of these are required, but you may want to consider if you need them or not.”

There’s no end to what parents and grandparents can worry about, when their child or grandchild heads off to college. Will they make the right decisions, choose good friends and perform well in their studies? One thing you can do to help prepare your college-bound student, is to have certain legal documents prepared before they go, advises in the article “Legal Documents Your Child Needs to Sign Before Heading to College.”

Once your child turns 18, your access to their medical records ends, unless they complete a form called a HIPAA Authorization. Your child must sign the form to give you access to their records, appointments, test results, etc. If your child is going to a school out of state, you may need a state-specific form. Keep these documents in a safe place, where you can access them quickly, in case of an emergency.

Chances are your student is heading off to college with a debit card and a credit card. However, do you have access to those accounts? Talk with your estate planning attorney about creating a Financial Power of Attorney form, so you don’t run into any roadblocks, if your child needs help handling their finances. Opening a bank account or having a credit card attached to your account makes it easier for you to transfer money to your student. It also makes it easier for you to keep a watchful eye on their spending. Make a copy of the front and back of all cards so you can easily report them if lost or stolen.

Colleges have a form known as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), which you usually can obtain at some point during orientation. This is a document that gives you the legal right to your child’s academic and financial information through the college. Think of this as the college’s HIPAA law. It’s not the same, but it can create the same level of obstruction, if you do not address it in advance. With it in place, you’ll be able to discuss their finances with the bursar’s office, their grades with their academic advisor and many other offices in the college that will otherwise refuse to speak with you.

College is a transition time for both students and parents, as well grandparents. Having these documents properly prepared, with the help of an estate planning attorney, will give you some peace of mind, as your child leaves the nest.

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