The Graduate?

With apologies to Mr. Robinson, it’s more than the plastic!

With your new grad, consider new legal requirements – they are now adults?

Parents and guardians often forget, or fail to consider, that once the proud graduate turns 18 s/he is now, in the eyes of the law, and the doctor, and the hospital and the school an adult.  Mom, Dad and Aunt Ethel have no right to see, hear or obtain the graduate’s personal information without their consent.

Off to College – you get to pay but not to see.

Schools and colleges, hospitals and doctors are restricted, by some very strict laws, from exposing and discussing the personal and private information of their students/patients.  So, grades, attendance, disciplinary and medical records are all out of bounds to mom and dad without the consent of the graduate.

Many parents are shocked and surprised when, in their usual parental role, they expect to manage the graduate’s affairs, they are met with a blank stare, or silence, following a query to the bursar, registrar or dean of discipline. And, in an emergency, say injury or an accident or stranding while a student abroad, parents and guardians should be prepared and able to gain access to protected information to help.School Records

School records are private and protected under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). Generally, parents of minor children (those not yet 18 years old) have the ability to inspect school records.  However, once the child turns 18, that privacy right belongs to the 18 year old child, the “eligible student”. Parents need permission of the student to view the records.

Medical Records

Medical records are also protected as provided in HIPPA, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.  HIPPA has very severe penalties for disclosure of protected information and doctors and hospitals are very careful not to discuss or disclose protected information.  The same rules apply to college and university health clinics and counseling and crisis centers. Once the graduate turns 18, the information belongs to them, others, including mom and dad, need permission for access.

Banking and Financial Records

The privacy of financial and banking information is covered by, among others,  the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act,  the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  State law and regulation also limit access to financial information.  These laws are the reason that telephone contact with a financial institution can be interspersed or preceded with passwords or phrases, mother’s maiden name, first pets and the like.  Also, mom and dad can’t access junior’s bank accounts, credit cards or college financial records without permission or joint ownership.

Note to parents:  its never a good idea to have a joint credit card with the graduate, unless you like to pay for the weekly keg party!  Better: get a credit or debit card in the graduate’s name that is re-loadable with a fixed amounts.  That will put you in control.

Hint: If junior is driving off to school, speak with your insurance agent; it may be better to register the car in junior’s name, at the college address, with lower liability limits. The college address may yield lower premiums and better overall liability protection for the whole family.

The solution?

The solution to this problem is to discuss, prepare and have the graduate execute the “Living Documents” we urge all of our clients to execute in addition to a Last Will and Testament or Trust: Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney, Statutory Short Form Powers of Attorney, Living Wills and Educational Records and Information Releases.

Each of these documents will, in their own sphere of influence, allow parents and guardians to interact and intercede on behalf of and in aid of the graduate.  Each should be on hand and ready to go.  Educational releases should be sent to the school, in advance, to be included in the student’s dossier.  Then the college administrators, faculty and staff will be able to discuss the graduate and their needs and with mom and dad, help to make the experience the best it can be.

We’re here to help.  If you would like us to prepare the “Living Documents” for your Graduate, please let us know:

You may contact us by filling in this form any time you need professional support or have any questions. You can also fill in the form to leave your comments or feedback.
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