Going off to college is one of the biggest transitions in your child’s life. However, it can also be a big change for you as a parent. You may have to deal with empty nest syndrome, complex financial planning for college, and the stress that comes along with any major life transition. Fortunately, if you have a plan ready on behalf of your child, you can eliminate some of the stress before it starts. This is why it is so important to make a college planning checklist.
Any college planning guide for parents needs to consider the time it takes to actually prepare for college. While your child is getting ready for college life, you will need to devise a college planning timeline to ensure that you have everything you need in advance. You might even consider having your lawyer or financial advisor devise a contract between parent and college student while your child is still in high school. This way, you will be prepared for any potential bumps in the road once your child has started their journey into higher education.
When most people think about a college planning checklist, they think about dorm accommodations and textbooks. Naturally, these are important things to think about, but there are also some less common factors that you need to consider. This includes 3 important signatures that you will want to include in your college planning checklist before your child ever sets foot on campus.
Medical regulations might be the last thing on your mind when you are making your college planning checklist. However, over the course of each semester, and certainly during their entire college career, your child will need to seek out some kind of treatment. In addition to having healthcare coverage for your child, it is vital that you provide them with the necessary paperwork to get the care they need.
One of the most important signatures you should get in advance is the HIPPA information release. This signature allows doctors and other healthcare professionals to obtain your child’s private medical information and history. In doing so, you ensure that there will not be any regulatory hang-ups if and when your child needs to get specialized treatment or medication. There is no official HIPPA release of information form, but a Merit advisor can help ensure that your release checks all of the necessary boxes.
In addition to the HIPPA information release, your college planning checklist needs to include paperwork to ensure that fast decisions can be made in the event of an emergency. Even though it might not be pleasant to think about, there is always the chance that your child could have an accident and be incapable of providing consent for medical treatment. This is where a healthcare proxy signature is essential.
A healthcare proxy is the equivalent of a medical power of attorney. In essence, your child gives you permission to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event that they are incapacitated or otherwise unable to give their own consent. Without this signature, it could complicate the acquisition of medical treatment in an emergency situation.
“These documents are extremely important” according to Wealth Advisor, Steve Denton. He explains “it is possible that a parent wouldn’t even receive information about their college child’s medical status unless they filled out the proper forms ahead of time.” Steven has seen the challenges first hand. “One of my clients experienced this with their 19-year-old child, who was in college several states away. The child was in a serious car accident and the parents could not get detailed information on the child’s status. What many parents don’t realize is that once their child turns 18, the parents lose the ability to access their child’s medical records without their permission. Even if the child is on the parent’s insurance. Unfortunately, most individuals don’t think about obtaining these forms until it’s too late.”
The exact requirements for what needs to be included on a healthcare proxy form (and similar advance directive forms) can vary by location, so you may need to provide different information depending on the state in which you reside.
While a durable power of attorney is very similar to a healthcare proxy form, it covers a wider range of actions that expand beyond medical treatment. Moreover, a durable power of attorney provides even greater powers to you as a parent, as it continues to apply even if your child becomes incapacitated. Thus, a durable power of attorney is an essential document for ensuring that your child’s legal and financial welfare is managed properly.
When it comes to a healthcare proxy or durable power of attorney form, there is no time like the present to get started. You never know when something could happen that could leave your child unable to consent to their own medical, financial, or legal decisions. Thus, it is best to acquire this signature well before they leave for college.
Do you need help collecting the forms above or finalizing your college planning checklist? If you would like more personalized college preparation tips or assistance with your child’s college preparation timeline, be sure to contact Merit Financial Advisors today!