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The Legal Documents Every Parent Needs Before Their Child Goes off to College: Power of Attorney & Health Care Proxy

The Legal Documents Every Parent Needs Before Their Child Goes off to College: Power of Attorney & Health Care Proxy

As parents, sending our children off to college is a significant milestone, marked by excitement, anticipation, and a touch of apprehension. Amidst the flurry of packing and preparations, it's essential to address critical legal matters that often go overlooked before your child officially sets foot on their new college campus. With most children reaching the age of eighteen (18) before heading off to college, the need for a durable power of attorney and legal healthcare documents to be in place for your college-bound child is essential.

The Age of Majority in Massachusetts

The age of majority in Massachusetts, like many other states, is eighteen (18) years old. Upon reaching the age of 18, individuals are legally recognized as adults and are considered emancipated by the state. While this newfound independence is a hallmark of adulthood, it also brings about important legal implications, particularly in matters of decision-making and medical care.

The Importance of Legal Documentation

With your child now legally recognized as an adult, you, as parents, may no longer have automatic authority to make decisions on their behalf or be able to access their medical information in the event of an emergency. This is where a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPAA authorization of release become invaluable tools for ensuring your child's safety and well-being, even when they're away at college.

1. Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney grants you, as the parent, the legal authority to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of your child. This includes managing bank accounts, paying bills, signing contracts, and handling other financial matters. In the event that your child is incapacitated or unable to make decisions due to illness or injury, having a durable power of attorney in place allows you to step in and act on their behalf.

2. Health Care Proxy

Similarly, a health care proxy empowers you to make medical decisions for your child if they are unable to do so themselves. This includes consenting to medical treatment, accessing medical records, and communicating with healthcare providers. In times of medical crisis, having a health care proxy ensures that you can advocate for your child's health and well-being with confidence.

3. HIPAA Authorization for Release Form

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was a law passed by Congress in 1996 that limits the use, disclosure, or release of protected healthcare information. In order for your child to grant you the ability to obtain their protected medical information, they must sign off on an authorization for release of protected health information, valid under 45 C.F.R. Chapter 164. This document gives the you, the parent (referred to as the “authorized recipient”), the ability to obtain your child’s medical information, and the ability to discuss, obtain advice from, or facilitate health care decisions on their behalf if they were to become incapacitated.

Peace of Mind for Parents and Children

While it may seem daunting to broach the topic of legal documentation with your college-bound child, emphasizing the importance of a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPAA authorization is an essential step in safeguarding their safety and ensuring peace of mind for both parents and children alike. By proactively addressing these legal matters, you can rest assured knowing that you have the necessary tools in place to protect your child's interests, even when they're far from home.

As your child embarks on their college journey, take the time to discuss the importance of creating a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and signing a HIPAA authorization form. By doing so, you can help ensure their safety and well-being, empower them to make informed decisions, and provide invaluable peace of mind for both you and your child during this exciting and transformative time in their lives. While planning for a day that you hope never comes is no easy process, make sure that you setup the proper legal documents to ensure that nothing stands in your way when it comes to making the best possible decisions on behalf of your child.

At Lane, Lane & Kelly, LLP, we understand the importance of proactive legal planning for families. Contact us today to learn more about creating durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPAA authorization documents for your college-bound child for a very reasonable price.


This blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this blog you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and Lane, Lane & Kelly, LLP.