Question: My daughter is going to live at college in the fall. She is now 18 years old. In case of a problem, do I need anything legally to support her medically or financially?

Answer: It’s that time of year again. I remember my freshman year at college. Though I was technically an 18 year old adult, I relied heavily upon my parents for support in many ways – financially, medically, and emotionally. Nowadays, college administrators can get carried away in providing students with autonomy from parents and some of it is federally required due to FERPA. Priority Law recommends two documents to give you legal authorization in case of emergency.

Documents to Allow Parents to Assist College Students in an Emergency

Health Care Proxy

Even in an emergency, your child’s rights are protected by HIPPA. Many reasonable medical personnel will work with parents for disclosure of information and collaboration of decision making. Many unreasonable individuals will not.

By signing a health care proxy document, your child authorizes you to step into their shoes in the event of a medical emergency. If your child cannot speak for themselves, you will be able to make their healthcare decisions. Further, as a designated health care agent, you will be able to gain access to medical information without delay or hesitation. This is particularly important in dealing with college administration in the wake of a medical emergency, when information is scarce.

Power of Attorney

Many parents will establish joint accounts for children at college. This allows you to access information and, more importantly, to deposit funds. This setup may serve most parents; however, your financial authority ends with this account.

Sometimes kids find themselves in other forms of financial obligation, such as rental agreements off campus, scholarships, loans, credit cards, or meal plans. Power of attorney status  allows you to be legally prepared if your child encounters any problems.

Interested in setting up a health care proxy or power of attorney for your college student? Contact Priority Law.

An earlier version of this article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.