Preparing for College: Why Your Student Needs a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Permanent Power of Attorney | Bowditch & Dewey

Now that high school graduation season is over, parents of college students (or any child who has turned 18) should encourage their adult children to issue a Permanent Power of Attorney, a Health Power of Attorney, and a HIPAA permit.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) provides that only the adult child and that child’s authorized representatives have the right to access that child’s medical records. Therefore, it is important that each new adult complete a HIPAA authorization that allows those named on the authorization to access the adult child’s medical records. With this approval, hospitals and other medical providers can provide information to parents about the condition and care of their college students.

What if your college-age child is incapacitated and you can’t communicate with that child’s doctors? To avoid the court appointing a guardian, you can simply have the child sign a power of attorney in advance. A health care officer appoints a representative to make medical decisions for the child when the child is unable to communicate with medical staff. Only one person can be appointed as a person of trust at a time, but the adult child can also name successors who will act in the event that the named person of trust is absent.

Finally, a Power of Attorney appoints an agent to handle the financial affairs of your adult child. Your adult child may appoint more than one person to act as proxy for that child and may also appoint successors. This power of attorney may be immediate or “leap-on-the-fly,” meaning that an event of incapacity is required for the permanent power of attorney to take effect. An immediate permanent power of attorney can be useful for simple matters, e.g. B. to help your child with banking and tax filing, or otherwise to help them manage their financial affairs. In addition, as an authorized representative, you can access the adult child’s accounting records, e.g. B. Tuition fees and grades. In the event your adult child becomes incapacitated, permanent power of attorney allows a representative to manage their financial affairs without the need for a court-appointed conservator.

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