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Packing for College? Don’t Forget the Paperwork

If you’re like most parents, completing that to-pack for college checklist can seem completely overwhelming. But as you get closer to the finish line, it also becomes a challenge to think about how your life- and your student’s life- will change. 

For those students on their own for the first time ever, there are a lot of changes around the corner for them. Things they might not have had to think about before, such as what happens if they get into an accident on or around campus? What happens if they need medical attention? Who is allowed to make medical decisions for them?

While you as the parent have served in that primary role for a long time, remember that if your student has hit age 18 and is moving out to attend college that decision-making power does not automatically default to you.

If your child is out of state at college, make sure you add one last thing to your “must-do” list: a healthcare power of attorney. In addition to packing a copy of the health insurance card and important phone numbers your child might need while away at school, it’s key to have these documents created before they go.

While no parent wants to think about something happening to their student, it’s not that difficult to set up a plan to protect them in the event of an emergency. A properly-drafted plan ensures that you get a phone call when something happens to your student on campus and that you can, legally, be brought into the situation to help make medical decisions.

Far too many students head off to their new campus dorms without thinking twice about this issue. While for many the need for a healthcare directive won’t be an urgent matter, it’s worth having that plan in place just in case something happens. Remember, your 18 year old now legally has the right to make decisions, including those related to medical care, on their own- if you’d still like to be involved, make sure you set aside some time to talk about a healthcare directive that will give you peace of mind after they move in.

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