It’s overwhelming when your child, now a legal adult, moves away to college. You are filling out a lot of paperwork – for financial aid, potentially apartment or dorm, or selecting courses. An often overlooked, but vitally important part of the paperwork puzzle are your child’s health care proxy and power of attorney (POA).
As parents, we are so used to being part of our child’s appointments or talking to medical professionals about their care, but once they turn 18, that all changes. According to the HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and other privacy laws, your child must grant you written permission in order to be part of their care. Without it, you may not have access to their medical records. With a health care proxy, your son or daughter can appoint you, your spouse or other guardian as their agent, so you can have access to their records, speak with their doctors, and make decisions about their medical care.
While the health care proxy is vital, a power of attorney is equally important. While your child is at school, you may need to manage student loans, investment accounts or other fiscal matters. You may not even be able to access their grades or get the tuition bill (even if you are paying for it)! If your child is going to college in another state, or even abroad, and they have an issue with their bank or other financial matter, as long as you have their power of attorney, you will be able to speak to the parties involved and help them from afar. Moreover, once they graduate, the POA and health care proxy can still be used until the adult child desires to change it.
Your child will appoint one parent the primary and one an alternate, or appoint both parents as co-agents, so you could work together or independently. It is important to name an alternate in case the primary cannot act.
Have this conversation with your child, before they go off to school. August gets busy, so schedule your appointments now. Of course, you hope you won’t ever have to use this, but it’s a safety net, just like insurance. It’s really an easy process. All I need are your full names and addresses, who is to be the agent, and who is the alternate. Then everyone signs the document, it’s notarized and you are all set. It should take under 15 minutes to complete this process and the peace of mind is so valuable.
Right now, we still have the ability in New York to do virtual notarizations, so if you and your child are unable to come into the office, or prefer virtual meetings due to Covid, you can still get this done.
In other news, real estate is still booming. And remember, an offer from an educated and prepared buyer has a better chance of getting accepted, so do your due diligence and be as prepared as possible when coming into the process. Give me a call if you are planning on buying or selling in the near future. We can chat about the process and what is expected.