Once your child is a legal adult—eighteen in most states, but nineteen in some—you no longer have automatic access to details surrounding their medical care, their financial information, or their grades.

“I often advise parents to consider the rights they ‘lose’ over their child when said child reaches the age of majority,” says Claudia Cobreiro, a Miami-based attorney who practices family law.

Before your teen heads out on their own, having a conversation about the paperwork responsibilities of adult life—and signing the appropriate forms—can avoid headache and hassle for both of you. It can also be a good opportunity to establish trust on both sides.

Here are four important legal forms to have on hand. Most can be completed online, but you might need to fill out the forms twice: one for the state you live in and one for the state the college is in. Print out and keep physical copies with you and send your teen to campus with physical copies and digital links to the documents as well.

Healthcare Proxy

What it is: This form allows you to make health-related decisions for someone if they are unable to do so themselves. This generally applies only if a person is unable to communicate. A healthcare proxy alone will likely not apply for routine medical care.

Why you need it: If your child was brought to the hospital and was unable to communicate with them, the only way you would be able to get information on your child’s condition is if this form was on file.

HIPAA Authorization

What it is: This form allows you to talk through health matters, including diagnoses and medications, with a healthcare provider. A healthcare proxy form may include HIPAA authorization, but it may not. Some HIPAA release forms have carve-outs that prohibit discussing sexual health or mental health information. This can give your child privacy while also allowing you to step in and assist with healthcare management.

Why you need it: Having a HIPAA authorization on file can help you step in and manage insurance claims or speak with your child’s doctor to advocate for them if they need help.

Power of Attorney

What it is: This allows you to have oversight of your student’s financial life. This includes filing taxes, opening bank accounts, or signing lease agreements.

Why you need it: One common situation where power of attorney would come in handy is if your student lost their wallet. As a financial power of attorney, you could help them close bank accounts and credit cards.

FERPA Permission

What it is: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is an act that protects the privacy of student records. When a child reaches the age of majority, that privacy extends to their records, meaning that a parent cannot obtain information about grades or disciplinary action without permission. To receive this information, students can allow permission for certain people, such as parents or guardians, to access these records.

Why it’s important: The importance of this permission varies depending on family.  This is a conversation that you and your child should have, and there is no “right” answer.

Your student’s college may offer parent seminars and templates to minimize the hassle of filling out these forms. However, if you have any questions or need guidance for your family, consult an attorney or legal professional. Having these in place before your child goes off to college can give everyone peace of mind.

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