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With your kid heading to college soon, you’ve created a checklist. It’s long. But here are four items you probably didn’t think to include.

Believe it or not, your 18-year-old is considered an adult. That means your legal right to make decisions on their behalf changes dramatically. You no longer have automatic access to their health, financial and education records, grades, schedules, financial accounts, etc.—even if you’re paying the bill.

Consider adding these health and financial matters to your checklist.

  1. Get a Credit Card

    The Credit CARD Act requires anyone under 21 to have a cosigner, unless they earn enough to repay the debt. The benefit of getting a card for your child now is that they can establish a strong credit score during college. Plus, it offers security if they need money quickly.

  2. Name a Health Care Proxy

    Have your child sign a health care proxy (i.e. durable power of attorney for health care) appointing you the power to make medical decisions. Without one, you might need court approval to act on your kid’s behalf should the need arise. Even in less serious situations, privacy laws prevent doctors from sharing information about your child’s condition if you don’t have a signed health care proxy.

  3. Appoint a Durable Power of Attorney

    Consider asking your child to sign a durable power of attorney allowing you to act on their behalf in financial and legal matters. For example, if your child is studying abroad, having power of attorney makes it easier for you to contact the local embassy, wire money from your child’s bank account, or sign legal documents in your child’s absence.

  4. Understand Cybersecurity

    Make sure your kid understands that her dorm room, student lounge, library, and so on are not secure internet locations. Urge them to keep any financial account login information confidential, and to always log off after use. Help them understand basic ways to prevent fraud, such as never providing their social security number and not opening suspicious emails.

A little preparation before new student orientation empowers you in potentially critical moments.

About Eric Bennett

Eric Bennett has over three decades experience in higher education managing recruitment and marketing, financial aid, and student development at three universities from Georgia to California to New York City. Eric recently put his experience to use launching Bennett Collaborative, a small business that creates content for brands with purpose. With his reputation for being an effective communicator, Eric writes for all kinds of industries from finance and college savings to education and disability services. Visit for more information.