What Legal Issues Do You Need to Consider for Your College-Bound Child?

It is graduation season.  As children graduate high school and start preparing for college, once they reach 18 years of age, they are no longer “minors.”  Most parents are not aware, but when the child gets to college, parents are no longer the automatic decision makers. For example, a parent can only see the child’s grades if the child consents.  From a legal point of view, since the child is now an adult, there are other decisions that may need to be made, and these can be planned for. There are two major areas which should be addressed: financial decisions and health decisions. The two documents which permit parents to act for their children are a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy.  It is recommended that a newly “adult child” sign these documents before leaving for school.

A Durable Power of Attorney appoints an “agent” to handle his or her financial affairs. This could be useful for  a college student in the event they need help with banking (making deposits and withdrawals), dealing with college tuition bills, transferring money into and out of accounts, checking bank balances, managing student loans, dealing with apartment leases (if they are not living in the dorms) or any other financial matters.

A Health Care Proxy (sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney in states other than New York) permits an agent (usually a parent) to make medical decisions for a child.  This may be necessary if there is an accident, but also just permits a parent to see or review a child’s medication or treatment. Without a Health Care Proxy, if a child is in the hospital, then the parent may be told that they are unable to review any medical records or make medical decisions. A Health Care Proxy also allows a parent to transfer their child’s medical records, either from a local doctor to a doctor at the college, or from the college to your local doctor when the child returns home.

If the student is going out-of-state, parents should make sure the documents comply with local requirements.

JeffreyThis article is intended as a general discussion of these issues only and is not to be considered legal advice or relied upon. For more information, please contact Jeffrey Blankstein who counsels clients on estate and retirement planning, individual taxation, real estate and litigation. Mr. Blankstein is admitted to practice law in New York. Attorney Advertising.