Useful tool for families with dependent children By Ross Barnett, attorney, Abendroth and Russell Law Firm
As your family gets ready to go back to school, you should review your access to your child’s financial, academic and medical information. A child becomes a legal adult at age 18, regardless of whether the child still lives at home or is a dependent of the parent. This adult status may limit your ability to assist your child or learn vital information.
Most financial institutions, schools and insurance companies strictly enforce privacy-protection laws. It is often difficult to obtain another adult’s financial or medical information. However, parents are often the ones who pay for post-secondary education. In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans and issuers that offer dependent coverage to make that coverage available until the adult child reaches the age of 26. Children can now be covered by a parent’s health insurance throughout college and beyond.
This can result in a situation where a parent is paying for college tuition, but is unable to learn what classes a child is taking or what grades he or she is receiving. A child can be covered by a parent’s health insurance, yet the parent may be barred from learning what medical services, procedures, and prescriptions are being used.
To be able to access your adult child’s information and to be able to help them navigate through policies, forms and applications, you should consider having your child execute a power of attorney. A power of attorney is an instrument in which your child can designate you to act on their behalf. Instead of being a document that permits you to take over the affairs of an incompetent individual, a student power of attorney empowers the parent to act concurrently with the dependent. It allows the young adult to include you in important decisions, and it grants you the access to information for which you are paying.
The power of attorney for families is not limited to young adults; it is also useful for parents with minor children. A power of attorney can allow parents to designate someone else to have access to a minor child’s information. This is useful when parents are vacationing or a family member is providing child care. The power of attorney gives the caretaker the ability to take a child to the doctor, contact a school or interact with a daycare provider.
Review your information options; a power of attorney can be a useful tool for families with dependent children.Information provided by Ross Barnett, attorney for Abendroth and Russell Law Firm, 2560 73rd St., Urbandale, 278-0623, www.ARPCLaw.com.