Keep Your Child Safe at College

Keep Your Child Safe at College

By Matthew A. Ferri, Esq.  How do you keep your child safe at college?  Schools across the United States are preparing plans on the safest ways to welcome back students for the 2020-21 year. Elementary through High Schools are figuring out whether remote, in-person, or some hybrid makes the most sense for their districts. Meanwhile, some universities have begun to permit their students to move back to campus and for parents all around this can be a nerve-wracking time.

Under “normal” circumstances for those of you who are parents of college students, you would likely worry whether your children are eating properly, focusing on studies, and getting enough sleep. Now, you also have to contend with the unknowns brought by the pandemic – how much learning will be done in person, how many students will be permitted to register for a course, how many students will be living in a dorm room, and what if your child has a medical emergency while away at school?  Keeping your child safe at college has taken on a whole new level of complexity.

The Legal Realities of Having an Adult Child

Now that your child is an adult, the rules change.  The medical privacy law, HIPAA, prevents your child’sKeep Your Child Safe at College | Estate Planning Attorneys Bloomfield Hills Michigan | doctor from discussing their medical conditions with you, even during a life-threatening emergency. And, if your child becomes incapacitated, without the proper documentation you would not be able to act right away on their behalf to make medical or financial decisions for them.

In order to help protect your child, and not lose potentially valuable time getting approval from the courts to act on your child’s behalf, you can make sure they have a few different essential documents in place before they get to campus.  Your child needs a Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney, a HIPAA Release, and a Financial Power of Attorney.

These important documents will let your child designate you as an agent. This means the doctor will be able to talk with you if something happens to your child.  You can also make critical medical decisions for them or handle their financial matters if they are incapacitated.

Using A Healthcare POA and HIPAA Release Form

Once your child fills out the medical documents, it’s important that their doctors can access them during an emergency, so they know they are allowed to talk to you. This is why our Estate Plans can include a membership in DocuBank. This service ensures that the hospital can immediately get a copy of your child’s Health Care Proxy and HIPAA Release, so you can rest easier knowing that these important documents will be quickly accessible when you need them.

Other useful features of DocuBank are that the card your child receives will list their allergies and pre-existing medical conditions. Also, it includes an alert when your child’s card is used to retrieve their emergency information. The alert contains the phone number of the facility requesting the information so you can immediately call to follow up.  And, since the hospital will have the HIPAA release form before you call, there should be no obstacle to you receiving the information you need.

It is important to not overlook planning for these young adults, even though we still think of them as kids.  Taking some minor precautions now can have a potential major impact later, especially in these challenging times. To learn how we can help protect your child at college, contact us at (248) 409-0256, for a complimentary consultation. We are currently offering telephone and Zoom meetings, if needed.

About the Author

Matthew A. FerriJ.D., M.B.A., is the Founder and Principal of Life Focus Planning, a Michigan based estate planning law firm.  He is an estate planning attorney with offices in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Shelby Township, Michigan.