• 4 Documents to Complete Before a Child Goes to College

    by Meri Grogan Director of Administration and Finance | June 7, 2024

    I have been a parent for 18 years, but I never really thought about having an adult child and what that would mean until I read a 2023 Wealth Management article in The Wall Street Journal titled, "Before Your Child Goes to College, Complete These Documents." It was then that I realized how many things change once your child turns 18, and how important it is for parents to know about these documents to continue to support their children, especially in emergencies or when big decisions need to be made. I wanted to share what I learned because I’m probably not the only person who didn't know this information.

    Family with 3 kids

    • Once a child turns 18, parents can no longer access their medical records. This can be a huge problem if something happens at school and doctors can’t share information with you. To avoid this, consider getting a universal HIPAA release form to ensure important medical details can still be shared with you. This is crucial in situations where your child can’t speak or make decisions for themselves.
    • Consider getting a health care proxy (aka health care power of attorney) for your child which empowers a trusted adult to make medical decisions if your young adult can't.
    • Another key document is the durable power of attorney. This gives someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions for your child. It can be set to activate only if your child is disabled due to things like mental illness, physical illness, or chronic drug use, or it can take effect immediately.
    • Here’s a surprise for many parents: Paying the college tuition bill doesn’t mean you automatically get access to your child’s grades. Thanks to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), you will need to sign a FERPA waiver so that you can access academic, financial aid, student account, and disciplinary records. Students usually fill this out online, but policies can vary by school.

    These four documents are super important so you can help your adult children when they need it most. It might be an awkward chat with your child, but it’s a necessary one. As parents, we hope we never need to use these permissions, but it’s smart to be prepared.

    You can find most of the referenced legal forms online for free but there are some that have a fee associated with the creation of them. You can always speak with an attorney, and I have found Mama Bear Legal Forms* to be a cost-effective option for online legal document creation.

    If you have a child going to college soon and want to ensure you have everything set from a financial perspective, feel free to contact us online or at (515) 225-6000.

    *Disclaimer: Hyperlinks are provided as a convenience only and we disclaim any responsibility for the accuracy of information on any other website linked hereto.

    Meri Grogan - Casual

    Meri Grogan, Syverson Strege’s Director of Finance and Administration, has been with the firm since 2012. Meri received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine, and she has more than 20 years of broad-based business experience in finance and human resources. She draws upon this and her years of accounting experience to help monitor, evaluate, and reinforce Syverson Strege’s financial foundation.

    Getting Started is Easy!

    Schedule An Appointment