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So Your Children Are Going Off To College

            It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again when our “babies” head off to college.  If your child is an incoming freshman, it’s a busy time buying bedding and towels, toiletries, dorm décor and, of course, school supplies. But before you pack up the SUV to drop your child off at the school of their choice, it’s time to consider some of the legal ramifications of your 18 year old son or daughter heading out into the world without you.
            At age eighteen, your child is now an adult in the eyes of the law. As an adult, the child has certain privacy rights and independence provided by law. No longer will you, as parents, necessarily be contacted if your child becomes ill or injured or be able to direct your child’s medical care. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requires that medical professionals obtain a release signed by your child before releasing any medical information to you. No longer will you be able to assist with banking or other financial matters, communicate with certain offices at your child’s school or change a flight itinerary.
            These situations are entirely avoidable with the preparation of two legal documents, a Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Power of Attorney for Property.
            The Power of Attorney for Property is a short statutory form that allows individuals to authorize an agent to act for them in dealing with their property and financial affairs. With a properly drafted Power of Attorney for Property, an adult child can appoint a parent as his or her agent to handle their property and financial activities, including banking and leasing transactions, preparing and filing income tax returns, obtaining and renewing passports and responding to a jury summons.
            The Power of Attorney for Health Care allows an individual to delegate decision-making authority with regard to his or her personal care and medical treatment to a trusted agent. Again, an adult child can designate a parent as agent to make health care decisions for the child and to obtain access to the child’s protected health information, including medical records. 
            While it may not be something that first comes to mind in connection with your back-to-school activities, it could be the most important. So don’t delay. Contact Lauren Evans DeJong in order to obtain powers of attorney for your adult children before they go off to school. The benefits are innumerable.