You’re sending your college student back into the bosom of academia. You run down the checklist to make sure nothing is forgotten:  clothes, phone, food, trip to the attorney. What?

At 18, whether you think so or not, the government proclaims your child to be an adult and all the privacy laws kick in. Unless your child has signed the appropriate permission slips you can’t get any information or make any decisions for your adult child, even if there’s an emergency. That’s why it’s recommended that you take your child to an attorney and have four forms drafted and signed by your college student:  a general power of attorney, medical power of attorney, durable power of attorney, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Form.

From here on we’ll refer to the person who signs the power of attorney as the Principal and the person given authority to act on the Principal’s behalf as the Attorney-in-Fact.

General Power of Attorney—the general power of attorney provides the Attorney-in-Fact with very broad powers to do almost every legal act that the Principal can do—things like banking, sell a car, sign legal documents—all things that might be necessary while your student is at school. However, a general power of attorney ends when the Principal can’t act for themselves. That’s why a durable power of attorney is recommended.

Durable Power of Attorney—the durable power of attorney remains in effect even if a person becomes incapacitated. It is the distinguishing difference between a general POA and a durable POA. There is a move to make all powers of attorney durable, eliminating the need for two separate documents.

Medical Power of Attorney—This form can save time and heartache in the event you’re your college student needs medical attention. Sometimes referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care, the medical power of attorney is very specific. It allows the AIF to oversee your healthcare and make health care decisions if you can’t make them yourself. The person named as your medical healthcare POA is legally bound to follow your treatment preferences to the extent that person knows about them. Sometimes states combine a durable healthcare power of attorney and a healthcare declaration into a single form, commonly referred to as an advanced healthcare directive.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Form—better known as HIPPA, protects medical privacy. It comes into play if your student is taken to the hospital, is injured or in surgery, and can’t communicate. The medical staff is not legally allowed to share information with you or take directions from you. That’s not an issue if you have a signed HIPPA form showing that you have authority to receive information and make decisions for your adult child.

Once you have the forms in hand, store them in a couple of places. Keep hard copies in a secure location but one you can easily access. It’s also a good idea to keep the documents in a PDF file. Some facilities will accept digital copies and your authority to act and receive information can be established quickly.

If you would like help with powers-of-attorney, let us know. Contact us at

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