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Is Your Child Going Off to College? These are a Must Do before Leaving “Your Nest”!

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By Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, CFP®

We’re nearing the end of summer, and for many recent high school graduates, this means they will be setting off on their first adventure as independent adults. If you’re a parent of a child leaving for school, this time could cause a mix of emotions and may include concern over the safety and well-being of your now adult-aged child. The distance and inability to keep a watchful eye over them could leave many parents wishing they had a mechanism to give them constant updates. Though it is most likely not advisable to place a tracking device on your child, it could be beneficial to take certain preliminary steps to secure your ability to assist your child in the event of an emergency. Certain documents could allow you to step in to provide critical support even if your child has surpassed eighteen years of age. Some documents you may want to consider creating with your child may include: 

A Healthcare Proxy

The idea of facing life or death circumstances will most likely seem outlandish to the majority of young, healthy, recent high school graduates. However, ask someone who has been in such a situation, and most will tell you the same thing: “you never expect it to happen until it does.” The unhealthy habits many college students form to stay on top of their increased workload can often create a perfect storm for health issues to arise. It could be helpful to establish a medical power of attorney, otherwise known as a healthcare proxy. This document allows an appointed individual to make medical decisions on your behalf to ensure that your medical treatment instructions are carried out if you become incapacitated and can no longer communicate your wishes. While this document is typically associated with seniors and those with terminal illnesses, nearly anyone over 18 years of age can appoint a healthcare agent. Without this document, it may be up to the discretion of the doctor or healthcare provider what treatment your child receives, even if this goes against your child’s wishes.

HIPPA Authorization Form

It is nerve-racking for parents to imagine their child being involved in an emergency and even more frightening to imagine trying to obtain information on their current status and getting denied access. With the continued rise in out of state college attendance, it’s not unusual for many parents to find themselves already at a disadvantage when trying to stay up-to-date on the well-being of their child. To add another barrier to this situation, if your adult child is hospitalized and unconscious, and has not authorized you as a recipient of their healthcare information, the hospital will most likely be unable to provide you with any updates on their condition. HIPPA Laws, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, safeguard who can access an adult’s private healthcare data. There is a great benefit to the law in protecting your information from strangers, but for a concerned parent trying to ensure the safety of their child, it could be burdensome. A HIPAA authorization that has been signed by your child and names you as an authorized party could prevent this roadblock. Out-of-state students may have to fill out the form for both their home and school states. If your child is reluctant to sign this form in fear that it would permit you to see every detail of their health records, it does allow them to specify which details remain private.

Power of Attorney

Many students may believe that once they turn eighteen, a magical switch is flipped and suddenly they fully have all the knowledge and wisdom of an adult. While some may show a great deal of maturity, there is still a good chance they have not dealt with the majority of aspects involved in adult life. However, their legal status as an adult could prevent you from assisting with various financial and legal affairs. Many parents may want to step in at times to help ease the transition into independence. A Power of Attorney (POA) could give a parent the ability to conduct business on behalf of their child to help with matters such as housing agreements, managing financial accounts, and signing legal documents. There are different types of POAs and some grant more authority than others. You may want to discuss with your attorney which type is best for your family.

As a parent, you likely wish you could put an invisible shield around your child to protect them at all times. It’s not easy watching one of your life’s greatest treasures leave the nest, but it may bring some solace to discuss early on their ideas and beliefs regarding financial and healthcare matters. This way, if an emergency were to arise, it could relieve some of the pressure from the decisions you may have to make. Your advisor may be able to assist you with how to open lines of communication in these areas. 

Investment advisory services offered through Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser independent of FSC Securities Corporation.  Securities and additional investment advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment adviser. 9601 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL. 239-262-6577.

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