Protect Your Kids and Yourselves With These Documents

September 21, 2023


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Protect Your Kids and Yourselves With These Documents

It’s mid-September 2023, which means the seasons are changing and I don’t just mean from baseball to football season. Well, as far as baseball is concerned, we can forget any pennant races in the New England/New York area this year. This is the traditional transition from summer to fall, but it also means kids are back in school. Maybe this is the year when your son or daughter started college. We know that’s a big deal; we’ve been helping you plan and prepare for this event. Along with paying for that first semester of tuition, books and meal plans, please don’t forget some very important documents to make the home to school transition complete.

These forms and documents include:

  •  FERPA - Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. This is a federal law that gives you access to your kid’s school records. If your son or daughter is 18 or older, they need to sign the FERPA waiver for you to have access to things like their student account, grades, financial aid, etc. This can typically be found on the college’s website. By the way, it doesn’t matter that you’re paying the bills, it needs to be signed by the student/young adult.
  • Health insurance - Colleges typically have health insurance plans which students can enroll in. Or if they stay under your plan, which they can do up to age 26, they need to sign a waiver declining the school’s plan. 
  • Durable power of attorney - This document allows a person, in this case, the parent, to figuratively step into the shoes of the young adult to handle or help with financial affairs. Maybe it’s dealing with credit card disputes or rental and leasing agreements. Maybe you need to step in and handle some financial issues due to an unforeseen mental or physical illness. 
  • Universal HIPAA release form and healthcare proxy - Which brings me to mental illness and physical issues which could arise quite unexpectedly. The Universal HIPPA release form allows medical information to be shared with another person, like an 18-year-old with a parent. Remember an 18-year-old is a young adult and you as a parent generally lose access to the medical records of doctors and hospitals. The healthcare proxy or medical power of attorney allows the parent to make medical decisions for the young adult, if they are unable to do so for themselves.

I hope you and your child/student/young adult complete these forms as soon as possible. And I hope you never have to use them. But let me tell you a personal story about our youngest son, Mike, when he was a freshman at High Point University in North Carolina. He was in his second semester, and we got a phone call. He wasn’t feeling well.  Headaches, total body aches, flu like symptoms. His roommate took him to a walk-in facility on campus. Next phone call. We were told of worsening conditions and an ER trip. Abby and I were on the next flight to Charlotte. The diagnosis was meningitis. We were by his side for over a week in the hospital.  He never lost consciousness and gave full permission for us to consult with his doctors and other healthcare providers. But without his verbal and written permission, we as parents would not have been able to do so.

The end of the story is thankfully, a happy one. After the many long days and nights at the hospital, many tests, and many prayers, Mike fully recovered from viral meningitis. When he was able to travel, we brought him home.

Our story ended well but learn from our experience. Please get these forms executed. See an attorney, or most of these forms I listed can be found online.

And if your kids have graduated, congratulations! Get these forms filled out anyways. Are your kids like mine and live hours away in another state? Or maybe they’re still in your basement.  You still want to protect them. 

If they have a significant other or get married, they can revoke these documents and replace you with their spouse on new documents.  Please do this for you and for them. And again, I hope you never need to use them.


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