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Legal Tips for Parents Sending Their Kids Off to College

August 10, 2021 Pegalis Law Group

If you’re a parent getting ready to send your child off to college for the first time, you’ve probably been advised from many well-meaning friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. Be sure to give your child plenty of space as they enter adulthood. Try not to freak out about their first semester’s grades or if they decide to change their major a few times. Offer guidance and support, but don’t set unrealistic expectations about life’s problems having quick fixes. And so on and so on. However, have you thought about seeking medical or legal advice before dropping off your son or daughter at the dorm? Pegalis Law Group, LLC sheds light on a few matters you may not have considered.

Is Your Son or Daughter Up-to-Date on Their Vaccinations?

College students require vaccinations to prevent the spread of certain diseases and illnesses while living in dorms and other shared spaces. Many of the vaccinations recommended for college freshmen are ones they likely received as children or teens. However, some may have missed them or may require a single booster shot. Ones you should make sure your child has had include the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for bacterial meningitis, the HPV vaccine for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, and the Tdap booster for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. If your child never had the MMR vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, you may also want to look into this one. They should also consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine and the seasonal flu shot to keep healthy. School vaccination requirements may vary, so be sure to check with your child’s university and physician for further advice.

Does Your College Student Need a Healthcare Proxy?

Most U.S. states (including New York) consider a person to be an adult once they’ve reached the age of 18, which is the age of most college freshmen. Once their children become adults, parents are no longer considered their legal guardians. Thanks to privacy laws such as HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), parents of adult children no longer enjoy access to their medical, financial, or even school records. A healthcare proxy is used to designate someone as a healthcare agent, giving this person the power to make medical decisions should a person not be able to do so on their own. Should the unthinkable happen and your college student be severely injured in a car accident, you would be able to make decisions about their care if you had them sign a healthcare proxy. A person may only have one healthcare proxy at a time. However, your spouse could be listed as a backup proxy.

Should You Have Your Child Sign a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney gives someone permission to handle financial affairs should a person become incapacitated. Should the unthinkable happen and your college student become severely injured or ill, their appointed power of attorney would be able to assist with their banking, bill paying, transferring of funds, and other financial transactions. Without signing a power of attorney, you would not be able to assume control of your child’s financial and legal affairs unless you petitioned a court for guardianship.

Ready or not, your child is now considered an adult. Only they can decide if signing a healthcare proxy or power of attorney is in their best interest. States may have different forms, so if your child chooses to attend an out-of-state college, you may need to do your homework to ensure you’ve filled out the correct forms and they remain valid and on file. Now is also the perfect time to ensure your legal and financial affairs are in order. How long has it been since you’ve updated your will or estate planning?

Educating People to Become Proactive Patients for 50 Years

Pegalis Law Group, LLC is a New York-based law firm specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice for nearly 50 years. Our staff is dedicated to educating clients and the public-at-large about becoming proactive patients to ensure improved healthcare measures for all. Please visit our website and be sure to follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to receive additional insights.