Your kid just graduated from high school. Hurray! Good job. Now it’s on to college. She’s picking out dorm furnishings. He’s trying to convince you that he needs the newest electronics.
Under Indiana law, your student became an adult on his/her 18th birthday. But the high school probably didn’t treat you any differently when your child came of age.
College is another world. A world that sees your child as an adult – and acts accordingly.
That means that parents no longer have the legal right to make medical decisions, review medical records, or even talk to doctors to find out what’s going on. You can’t check accounts to see when bills come due, how much is owed, or review bank transactions. You can’t look up grades or confirm class enrollment.
These limits could result in dire consequences, as described below:
Adults get to select their own medical care and consent to treatment. Federal law makes their medical records confidential. Now that you are the parent of an adult, you no longer control the child’s healthcare choices. Medical personnel have no obligation to follow anyone’s wishes regarding treatment except the patient’s. If your child is hospitalized after a serious accident that destroys his/her ability to consent, the doctors may not be able to do more than provide emergency care. It might take a court order to get necessary treatment.
Banks and credit card companies usually restrict information to named account holders. If you’re not on the account, you can’t withdraw funds or use them to make payments. Even landlords and utilities won’t give anyone else access to the account.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that governs access to education records. It gives parents access to their child’s school records and restricts access by others. When a student turns 18 or starts college, the FERPA rights transfer from the parents to the student. You do not have the right to look up charges on college accounts, billing records, or even grades.
There are a series of documents that will protect your child and let you continue to provide a helping hand during early adulthood.
Divorce and paternity courts can order parents to pay for college. Usually, those orders require the child to give parents access to the educational record. That alone probably won’t give you access to school records. Your child will still need to sign a release. The college should have a form that students can sign to give parents access to their educational records. This form is usually available at freshman orientation, which is a good time to take care of this. It can be signed later, too.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
This document lets you pick who will make medical decisions if you become incapacitated. For college students, the HPOA usually names the parents, but that’s not the only option. Some choose a sibling or a close friend who shares their values. Each person named in the document gets access to medical records. Doctors and hospital staff can openly discuss care options. Each person identified has the power to consent to treatment and the power to refuse consent.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
A Durable Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA) lets you name another person who can act on your behalf. It can go into effect immediately. Or it can only be limited, so that it only applies if you are incapacitated. The FPOA can access bank accounts and financial records. The FPOA has the authority to spend your money for rent, utilities, and other bills.
This document applies only when the patient cannot communicate and is in a terminal condition (think horrible car crash). It tells the doctors what types of life-prolonging care and treatment to provide and identifies treatments that should be withheld. Sometimes, it can limit the options available to a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Does this mean your kid needs an attorney?
Not necessarily. Forms are online for each type of document. BUT, it’s easy to make a mistake that creates unintended consequences. Durable Power of Attorney forms may not accomplish the intended goal if the powers are not correctly described pursuant to Indiana law. Errors in execution or filling out the form could even invalidate a document.
College Student Document Package
Bays Family Law has a college student document package for eligible clients under the age of 25.
It includes the Healthcare Power of Attorney, the Durable Power of Attorney, and the Living Will.
The documents are prepared after meeting with one of our attorney/paralegal teams. An attorney personally reviews each document before it is signed.
From now through September 30, 2019, the College Student Document Package is available for $100.00.