If your child has turned or will turn 18 before college begins, she is legally an adult, and you, her parent, lose the legal authority to make decisions on her behalf. That means that you have no legal right to see her grades, manage her finances (although you remain responsible for paying her college tuition), make medical decisions or speak with her doctor. So, before she goes off to college, consider asking her to sign some documents that will allow you to continue to help your child.
FERPA release: with your child’s permission, you can speak with the college about her performance. Colleges often have their own FERPA releases, so ask your college for a copy.
HIPAA Authorization: allows you to access your child’s health records and speak to her doctors.
Advance Care Directive for Health Care: allows you to act on your adult child’s behalf in the event that she is incapacitated and unable to make decisions for herself.
Durable Power of Attorney: allows you to act on your adult child’s behalf regarding legal or financial matters.
You can get the last three forms mentioned from your family lawyer. Having these in place while your child is away at college may provide the whole family with extra peace of mind.
This is also a good time to address money management issues. Set up a bank account that will allow you to easily transfer money to her account. Find out which banks have ATMs close to campus—college kids usually don’t write many checks. Be sure to check on fees for using an ATM that’s not part of your bank’s network. Those fees can add up!
Make plans to protect student property. College kids tend to have a lot of valuable electronics and computer equipment. Renter’s insurance can protect your investment if these items were to disappear. Your homeowner’s policy might also cover dorm room possessions—check with your agent.