Preparing to send your son or daughter to college is one of the most exciting, and nervous times for a parent.
You’ll worry whether they will eat well, study enough, and get enough rest. While you can’t help these everyday concerns, you can prepare for the major ones: if your son or daughter has a medical or financial emergency while away at school.
Although you may still be paying the bills, the laws of parenting change completely once your child turns 18. They may still be financially dependent on you, but they are an adult in the eyes of the law. One of the laws that now affects your child is called HIPAA. This is a federal law that protects the privacy of patients. While that’s usually a good thing, it could be detrimental for you and your family if your child is hospitalized while at school. That’s because in this situation, “protecting” your child’s privacy actually means preventing their doctor from sharing information with you.
Once your child turns 18, it is illegal for a doctor to discuss their medical conditions with you—even during a life-threatening emergency.
A Durable Power of Attorney, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a HIPAA Release will allow you to continue to be a parent to your young adult.
These important documents will ensure that if your child is hospitalized, you will not be left out not knowing what is going on. Your child’s doctor will be able to talk with you and you’ll be able to make decisions on what type of treatment should be provided. Without the Health Care Surrogacy, a guardian may have to be appointed by the court to make decisions if your child is unable to do so themselves. A Durable Power of Attorney (or financial power of attorney) will allow parents to manage their child’s finances.