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College Prep 101: Legal Documents Every College Student Needs

July 26, 2023

Marie Ignozzi

Do you have a son or daughter who is heading off to college soon? If so, you are likely focused on packing up belongings and shopping for supplies in preparation for a move into a dorm or an apartment. Although college is an exciting time, it is the beginning of your child’s transition into their life as an adult which, as you know, brings some important and challenging decisions. Just as important as that new bedspread and desk supplies, every college student should be prepared with certain legal documents related to healthcare and medical treatment.

Once your child turns 18, a parent is not automatically able to obtain medical care for their child or access their child’s medical or educational records. Powers of Attorney and Medical Directives are legal documents that identify when, and under what circumstances, a parent can make decisions on the child’s behalf and consult with medical providers. A Living Will can designate end-of-life care and identify what types of treatment are or are not acceptable for your child. Having a signed HIPAA authorization on hand will allow parents to access or obtain their child’s medical records.

Parents of college students should also secure a signed Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) waiver. This form allows parents to access their child’s school records. Each school requires your child to grant permission to you to see educational records even though you may be footing the bill.

In addition to securing these legal documents, sending a child off to college is a good time for parents to review their insurance policies. Check your health insurance to ensure your child remains covered under your medical plan while attending school and possibly in another state. Most policies provide health insurance for students up to a certain age, usually 26, as long as they are enrolled on a full-time basis, however, certain health services may be considered out of network when provided in another state. Check your homeowner’s and automobile insurance policies for any appropriate adjustments to coverage if your child is no longer living in your house and/or will not be driving your car regularly. You should also confirm if you have insurance coverage for any lost or stolen property if that property will be located at your child’s college residence. Renter’s insurance can be purchased for any student leasing an apartment or a house.

It might not be easy to think of your college student as a legal adult, but when your child heads off to college, having these important documents finalized will give you extra comfort and security. Contact an attorney at RKW to get started so you can send your child to school with a plan and peace of mind.

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