Kids going to college? Don’t forget this!


by Jerry Lynch, CFP, JFL Total Wealth Management

So Junior has finally finished high school! He/she has taken the SATs, applied to different colleges and finally got accepted into something that costs more money than you thought you would ever spend on college. That is great!

Within the next few weeks, all the preparations for living away are happening. Buying sheets for the bed. Maybe a new computer with the latest gadgets and software. New clothes based upon the trends that are happening… you are all set.

You forgot one big thing. You are probably aware that even though you are paying some insane price so your kids can drink beer in another state, you will not have access to their grades unless they give that to you. That is because of confidentiality.

What you are also probably not aware of is that when they reach majority (in most cases at age 18), you have no access to any of their medical information. You also do not have the ability to authorize medical care for them without their approval. That is the law!

So let’s play this through. Junior gets hurt and has to go to the emergency room. He/she is incapable of understanding anything that is happening to them as maybe they are unconscious. You, as the concerned parent, call to ask what is wrong with your child. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), they cannot legally speak to you, nor can you authorize any medical treatment for them. That very intense situation just became five times more intense than it really needs to be!

So how do you fix this? Have your children sign a HIPAA release form that you can get through your estate attorney. This will allow you to authorize medical treatment and have access to your child’s medical information. This is not to spy on your kids, but to be able to access and authorize care in the result of an emergency.

Yes, this is necessary.

You need to have an original of this document, and so should your child’s primary care physician, probably their school infirmary, and anyone else they may see on a regular basis. This is not something that is optional. If medical personal release confidential medical information without proper authorization, it is an extremely big problem that can cost them their job.

So before they head out the door, make sure they have signed the correct medical authorization.

Jerry Lynch is a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management. He may be reached at or (973) 439-1190.

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