Financial Matters: Legal and Financial Issues Before College

If your child will be 18 before college begins, they are legally an adult, and you, their parent, lose legal authority to make decisions on their behalf. What does that mean? You have no legal rights to view their grades, manage their finances (although, you might remain responsible for paying for their tuition), make medical decisions, or speak with their doctor. Before your child leaves for college, consider talking with them about how to handle financial issues for college students and how you can still help them. There are many documents that your child can sign that will allow you to continue to help your child, with their permission.

FERPA release: With your child’s permission, you can talk with their school about their performance. Colleges often have their own FERPA releases. Talk with your child about getting a copy from their school.

HIPAA Authorization: This allows you to access your child’s health records and talk with their doctors.

Advance Care Directive for Health Care: In the event that your child is incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves, this allows you to act on your child’s behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney: This grants you the ability to act on your child’s behalf regarding legal and/or financial matters.

You can get these three forms from your family lawyer. Having these in place while your child is at school can provide everyone a peace of mind. This can also be a good time to broach the subject of money management issues with your child.

Set Up a Bank Account: Setting up a bank account that allows you to easily transfer money to your child. Research what banks have ATMs close to your child’s school. Be sure to check on ATM fees for not using machines in your bank’s network. Those fees can add up!

Make Plans to Protect Student Property: College students have a lot of valuable property from electronics to personal items. Renter’s insurance can protect these possessions if they were to get damaged or stolen. Your homeowner’s insurance could even cover your child’s dorm room possessionsbe sure to check with your agent!

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