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College Student Legal Documents

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Incapacity can occur because of illness or an accident. It can be temporary or permanent. That’s why every adult needs a power of attorney in place, once they turn eighteen.

As your recent high school graduate prepares for a roaring summer and the college in August, what are the basic college student legal documents they should have?

If they are not yet 17, you are still the parent legally of your college student and have significant controls that you have always had. Eighteen may not be real emancipation, but it is a defining legal milestone.

The Press-Enterprise’s recent article entitled “Legal documents for young adults” describes some of the essential legal and estate planning documents your “kid” (who’s now an adult) should have.

HIPAA Waiver. This form allows medical personnel to provide information to the parties you’ve named in the document. Without it, even mom would be prohibited from accessing her 19-year-old’s college student’s health information—even in an emergency. However, know that this form doesn’t authorize anyone to make decisions. For that, see Health Care Directives below.

Health Care Directive. Also known as a health care power of attorney, this authorizes someone else to make health care decisions for you and details the decisions you’d like made.

Durable Power of Attorney. Once your child turns 18you can no longerto act on their behalf, make decisions for them, or enter into any kind of an agreement binding them. This can be a big concern if your adult child becomes incapacitated. Such a document can be immediately effective or as a springing durable power of attorney. The latter is a document that becomes effective only upon the incapacity of the principal (the person signing the document). It’s called a “springing” power because it springs into effect upon incapacity, rather than being effective immediately.

A durable power of attorney, whether springing or immediate, states who can manage finances for you. The designated agent can access bank accounts, pay bills, file insurance claims, and engage attorneys or other professionals. They can act on behalf of the incapacitated person.

Your college student will always be your babies, but once your child turns 18, they are legally an adult.

Be sure you’ve got the legal documents in place to be there for them in an emergency.

When to get this done? It could be before school starts, if they are over 18, as a minor can’t effectively sign the document. If not, then maybe a school break, a visit after their 18th birthday, or a senior road trip are all needed when these documents are required.

Reference: The Press-Enterprise (April 2, 202“) “Legal documents for young adults.”