Protecting the Health and Finances of Your College-Bound Child

by Charles H McClenaghan on Mar. 14, 2016

Estate Estate Planning 

Summary: If you have college-bound children, remember that they are very likely to be legal age adults. While you may be paying for college, your adult child is entitled to privacy. You should help them take steps to prevent legal problems should a medical or financial issue develop.

Protecting the Health and Finances of Your College-Bound Child


When helping to prepare your child for college, it is easy to overlook the fact that your child is, or will soon be, 18-years-old. However, the 18th birthday marks a very significant change in the legal responsibilities you have as a parent. Once your child turns 18, legally, he or she is responsible for making all financial and health care decisions for himself or herself. As a parent, you no longer have access to the health care records or financial information of your child. While this is generally a positive step for the independence of your child, it is important to have a plan for the unexpected, or emergency situation, when your child begins college. We recommend the following documents be executed by your child when he or she turns 18:


HIPAA Waiver

Under federal law, certain important health care information cannot be disclosed to family and friends, no matter the circumstances. In an emergency situation, this can cause a problem for parents attempting to receive basic health care information regarding their adult child. By signing the HIPAA Waiver, your adult child is granting you access to his or her medical information.


Healthcare Power of Attorney

If a situation arises and your adult child is unable to make his or her own health care decisions, it may be difficult and time consuming for you to eventually be able to make a decision on behalf of him or her. However, if your adult child signs a Healthcare Power of Attorney authorizing you to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if he or she is unable to, you would show this to the attending physician and immediately be able to make the decision for your adult child.


Durable Financial Power of Attorney

Situations may arise where you need to access your adult child’s financial information or may need to make a financial decision for your adult child. Your adult child may sign a Financial Power of Attorney, which authorizes you to make these decisions on his or her behalf. Once this document is shown to the financial institution, you would be able to take action on behalf of your adult child.


If you would like any further information or have any questions about these documents, you may contact Charles H. McClenaghan, Of Counsel, Law Office of Lardiere McNair, LLC at 614-429-1053 

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