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  • Writer's pictureHollis Bischoff

You’re Not Really Done Until the Paperwork’s Done – Important Legal Documents to Consider

I’ve invited a guest writer to address some important legal issues you should take care of before leaving for college: Responsibility is a loaded word, especially for young adults entering college.  “You need to be responsible for this… and for that… and for something else” is all you hear from parents, teachers, and counselors; and eventually it all turns into “Blah, blah, blah.”   But if you could pause for just one second, before switching to your Facebook newsfeed, let me suggest three easy and very powerful ways to show your parents how RESPONSIBLE you are without actually having to do anything hard. As you know, turning 18 is a big deal, not only because of “18 and over” clubs, but also, because in the eyes of law you become a separate legal entity from your parents.  Although, it might feel nice to finally be the boss, there are a number of things, other than financing your college adventure; your parents could be good for. Let’s say you woke up late for your first semester final and after slipping into your flip flops and forgetting to take off pajamas you are literally running across the street to the other side of campus as an equally frazzled and distraught bicyclist forgets to look right and slams right into you. Everything goes black. The next thing you remember is a distant wail of an ambulance and voices of doctors you never met before. Wouldn’t that be a good time to hear your mom’s or dad’s voice or at least know that they have the ability to help you? Well, here is where the whole 18 year-old thing becomes a problem. Your parents need a legal document giving them authority to talk to your doctor, to have your doctor call them or to even find out what hospital is caring for you. Now, here is your chance to shine in the adult world and show the responsible you: suggest to your parents to execute the following three documents: Advance Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney for Property and FERPA release. Trust me, your parents will be shocked and incredibly proud of the responsible adult you, and all you have to do is practice your autograph, i.e. sign. Advance Health Care Directive: Advance Health Care Directive is a document that allows parents to make medical decisions and access medical records in case of incapacity of their adult child. In emergency situations, as described above, having this document will make helping you a lot easier. Power of Attorney for Property Management:  Power of Attorney for Property Management is a document that allows parents to act on behalf of their adult child, in case of the child’s incapacity, to manage finances, deal with credit agencies, and access bank accounts. Do not be surprised if your roommate’s boyfriend accidentally finds your credit card in his wallet… FERPA Release: FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) limits parental rights to access college records of their adult children. Students must actively waive FERPA limitations to allow their parents to access records and to advocate on their behalf in case of a dispute with administration.  I know, you are thinking, this is my college, I can handle it. But you are only one person and even computers need to be backed up. What if you were in an accident, or studying indigenous cultures in the Brazilian Jungle, and needed to make the application deadline for the African Safari expedition? Your roommate is not going to help you, but I can think of a couple of people who would….parents.  Each educational institution has its own form, so it would be best to request and sign FERPA Release from the University Administration. Now, go and surprise your parents….the adult responsible you! ++++++++++++++ Thank you to Marina Varinsky for providing this valuable information on transitioning to adulthood. Please feel free to contact her for assistance in completing these documents: Marina M. Vinsky, Esq. Vinsky Law Group

2055 Junction Ave., Suite 118

San Jose, CA 95131

Off: (408) 879-9039

Cell: (408) 391-7460

Fax: (408) 668-0969

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