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Monday, July 10, 2017

The Three Most Important Steps to take BEFORE sending your Kids off to College this Fall

By Peter J. Gilbert, Esq.

It's almost that time of year again when the kids are off to college. While we are all very excited for them, we are also concerned about the "what ifs".  You hear so many stories of tragedies on college campuses, from drinking binges to fraternity hazing, and we're all confident that will never happen to our kids.  But because we love our children, and their health and well-being remains a top priority, we can't help but prepare for the unexpected.  What if something DID happen to your college age children?  Would you have the legal authority to help them, or would a bad situation become even worse because the proper documents were not in place?  

The reality is that when your child turns 18, you no longer have legal authority over them. Although the kids are excited to get a taste of independence, you know that YOU are the ones they will turn to in a pinch or crisis. That's why it's absolutely essential that, if the unexpected does happen, you are legally authorized to have access to the people and records necessary to help your kids

Did you know that those who violate HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) are subject to civil and criminal penalties, including jail time?  This makes many institutions like colleges and hospitals reluctant to share protected health information without proper authorization.  That's why a properly prepared HIPAA Release is a sensible first step toward protecting your kids.

A second step toward protecting your kids is obtaining a Healthcare Power of Attorney for them.  This document authorizes you to make any healthcare-related decisions for your college age child. It is crucial that they execute a healthcare power of attorney so that you understand their wishes, and can act on their behalf when they need you most.  

Step three:  A Special Durable Power of Attorney.  This authorizes you to manage your adult child's financial affairs either immediately or in the future. It authorizes you to handle tasks such as paying bills, applying for social security or government benefits and opening and closing accounts if necessary.  

Don't send your kids off to college without being prepared. You got them their refrigerator, microwave, books and computer.  Now make sure they also have their Student Essentials Plan: HIPAA Release Form, Healthcare Power of Attorney and Special Durable Power of Attorney.  Breathe a little easier knowing that you can be there for them in the clutch, no matter how far away they are; call today to get your Student Essentials Plan in place before you realize you needed it. 


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HighPoint Law Offices assists clients with Estate Planning, Probate and Estate Administration, Medicaid Planning and IRA Preservation in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas including Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton Counties.



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