You are the parent? So What?

You are the parent? So What?

The applications are in, standardized tests are complete and a college decision has been made.  Time is racing as college acceptance notices soon lead to freshman move in day. Now all there is to do is buy dorm supplies and drop the kids off, right?  Wait! Maybe not.  A recent consultation with an attorney’s office opened our teams’ eyes to something that you may not have thought of before.

As a parent you spend years caring for the needs, wants, and wishes of your children and in a blink they are off to college on their own. Now may be the time to parent from a far. Consider an unsettling, but not unthinkable situation:  Your adult child is no longer living in your home. You get a call from a roommate or friend saying that there has been a medical emergency and your child is in the hospital.  Your first instinct is to call or rush to the hospital to find out what is happening, but you are denied access to any information.  If you are the parent(s), what can you do to ensure a hospital does not deny you information about the medical care of your loved one?

In a previous blog post we reviewed some of the documents you should consider for your adult child. Here we wish to expand upon our previous discussion piece in order to best serve our families. There are 4 pieces of documentation that you should consider putting in place for your adult children: A HIPAA authorization, Medical Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a FERPA form.  Each form has a specific purpose that can best be explained by a trusted attorney. A brief description of each, along with links to the sources are below:

HIPAA Authorization

HIPAA rules prohibit you from having the right to obtain medical information on your adult child, even if you are paying for their health insurance and they are covered by your plan.  It is up to the medical provider to disclose information to family members if they feel it is in the patient’s best interest, but it is not a requirement

signed HIPAA authorization is like a permission slip. It permits health-care providers to disclose your health information to anyone you specify. A stand-alone HIPAA authorization does not have to be notarized or witnessed. They can stipulate not to disclose information about drugs, mental health, or other details they might want to keep private.

Medical Power of Attorney/Health Care Proxy

In signing a medical POA you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for yourself. Each state has different laws governing medical POA and, therefore, different legal forms. In many states, the HIPAA authorization is rolled into the standard medical POA form.

Durable Power of Attorney

As an additional step, young-adult children might consider appointing a durable power of attorney, enabling a parent or other designated agent to take care of business on the student’s behalf. If the student were to become incapacitated or if the student were studying abroad, the durable power of attorney would be able to, for example, sign tax returns, access bank accounts, and pay bills.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act created this form in order to protect a student’s personal records at a university. This form extends from healthcare records, to emergency contacts, to safety records, to education records. This form allows sharing of personal records with only authorized individuals/institutions. Each university treats this form uniquely. Check with each university for their FERPA rules. Each university makes a case-by-case determination of records sharing, so having a FERPA on file at your select university is the safest route to take.

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These are the opinions of HFS Wealth Advisors and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for information purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice.  Investing involves risk.  Depending on the types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk.  Investors should be prepared to bear loss, including total loss of principal.  The strategies discussed herein are not designed based on the individual needs of any one specific client or investor.  In other words, it is not a customized strategy designed on the specific financial circumstances of the client.  However, prior to opening an account, Cambridge will consult with you to determine if your financial objectives are appropriate for investing in the model.  You are also provided the opportunity to place reasonable restrictions on the securities held in your account.