Now that high school graduation is upon us, it’s a time for celebration and reflection for parents and students alike. For parents, you now face the fact that your little bird is leaving the nest. Is he or she ready? Legally, they are adults now and entitled to privacy protections. This means that even though your child may be relying on your financial support, privacy laws prohibit financial institutions, medical providers and colleges from disclosing private information concerning your child unless authorized. In case of an emergency, your child needs the following documents in place for you to be able to help them and make decisions on their behalf:
1. Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows you to manage their financial affairs (either immediately or in the future) should they travel abroad or become mentally or physically unable to do so. This includes managing their financial accounts, renewing their car registration, or filing a tax return on their behalf.
2. Medical Power of Attorney: This document allows you to talk with their doctors, see their medical records, and make medical decisions if they are incapacitated and unable to do so.
3. HIPAA Release: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires health care providers and insurance companies to protect the privacy of a patient’s health care information. The Medical Power of Attorney does not grant authority until the principal is incapacitated, so if your child’s capacity is questioned, then HIPAA regulations would prevent access to their protected health information. By signing a HIPAA release your child can authorize doctors to share diagnoses and treatment options with you.
4. FERPA Release: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act protects access to your child’s grades, schedule, disciplinary records and other information, unless they give written consent to disclose the information to you.
If your child is heading off to college, or is already in college, discuss with them the realities of a medical emergency or assisting them with financial matters. If they are resistant, reassure them that these documents are revocable and can be short in duration.