For parents of high school graduates, the summer months are often busy planning for the college semester looming ahead. Both the future college student and his or her family are likely to be feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension. Even if your teen is going to school relatively close to home, it still represents a transition to early adulthood. In most cases, rather than deferring to mom or dad, your on or daughter will be making his or her own decisions and dealing with other adults and institutions independently. As a result, it is important to consult with our New Jersey family law attorney to ensure the proper legal documents are in place.
Your Child’s Right to Privacy as a College Student
Parents are used to being involved in virtually every area of their child’s life. Even though teenage children may be growing up quickly and are assuming more responsibility, parents are still the first point of contact for them. At school, parents get notified of absences, are required to
attend periodic conferences regarding grades, have input when it comes to sports or recreational activities, and are informed about any health issues or those involving the guidance counselor.
With college planning, they generally provide all the financial documents required and play a
major role in determining which school the child will attend.
All of this changes once the student goes off to college. The Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that serves to protect the rights of college students. It
protects their grades, attendance records, and many other issues that are likely to develop on
campus. In many cases, there are restrictions regarding what the college can tell parents,
particularly when it comes to the following:
● Personal information;
● Personal health care choices;
● Financial matters;
● Security related issues;
● Disciplinary concerns.
Even in terms of general health care, parents may be listed as an emergency contact but the school is not obligated to automatically give out any information. This type of information is often protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Estate Planning Documents Your Adult Child Needs
Considering the level of privacy college students are afforded and the fact that they are treated as adults, it is important for parents to take legal steps to ensure their rights and those of their children are protected. Some estate planning documents your college student should have in
place before leaving for school include:
● A will: In some cases, students may have cars, expensive electronics, recreational vehicles, websites, online businesses, and money in savings accounts or being held in trust. Not having a will could result in potentially lengthy probate court proceedings. Even if they do not possess these types of assets, a will is still a smart idea.
● Power of attorney: This document authorizes you or another person they name to handle financial and business matters on their behalf if they become incapacitated, such as due to an accident or illness.
● Advance directives: In New Jersey, advance directives provide important information to health care providers about the types of medical care your child would want if an accident occurs. This includes a health care power of attorney, which authorizes you to
make important decisions regarding medical treatment on their behalf.
Get Guidance From Our Middlesex Estate Planning Attorneys
To protect your child while they are away at college, the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., can guide you in the legal documents that should be put in place. To request a consultation, call or contact our Milltown family law attorneys online today.