Four Documents Every College Student Needs

Post by: Lesley Hempfling

Many of you probably sent your children off to college this past fall. Before you left you stocked their refrigerators with food, made sure they had their books, health insurance card, transportation and their cell phone handy to call you in case of emergency. What a lot of parents don't realize is if they do get that dreaded call from the hospital or need to access their child's bank account, they have no legal rights to do so unless the child has executed documents granting their parents these rights. Every college student should have a minimum of four legal documents before they head out on their own:

1. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney.

This document allows your child to designate an agent to act on their behalf in all financial matters. This document may be executed so as to be effective immediately or only upon incapacity. If your child has a financial account in his or her own name only, you as a parent will have no rights to access that account without this document.

2. Medical Power of Attorney.

This document allows your child to appoint an agent to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make such decisions. Typical decisions may include: operations, medication, procedures and life support (to the extent not addressed in the Living Will). Your child may customize this document to meet any specific religious and/or philosophical beliefs that he or she may hold or to restrict the agent's decisions making power.

3. HIPAA Release.

In the event that your child becomes incapacitated, the HIPAA Release permits his or her doctors and other health care providers to provide the necessary information to enable the agents they designated in their Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney to begin acting on their behalf. The HIPAA Release is primarily meant to deal with recent legislative changes that prevent doctors and health care providers from disclosing personal and private health information to any third party without prior express consent.

4. Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates ("Living Will").

The purpose of the Living Will is to help your child communicate decisions about life-sustaining treatment. It takes precedence over the Medical Power of Attorney. This document may also be customized to meet specific religious and/or philosophical preferences/beliefs.

*For purposes of this article I am assuming a college student to be eighteen (18) years or older.