Back-to-School Estate Planning for College Students

At the start of the summer, we shared important information for parents and grandparents with loved ones turning 18. These estate planning tips are especially important to consider as students head to college this September.

Back-to-School planning can be a whirlwind, and while this planning typically involves stocking up on bulk cases of ramen noodles and extra-long sheets, it should also include a real conversation about what it means to be eighteen and away from home (most likely, for the first time).

Your eighteen-year-old child or grandchild may be so excited to start their college experience, that they may not be aware of how their changing legal status will impact them in a variety of ways.

The fact is, as legal adults, medical records will not be accessible to parents or guardians, and they will no longer be able to make health care decisions or receive admission information from hospitals if there is an accident. When a teenager leaves home for college, they may be legally an adult, but parental guidance is still important and necessary. Without taking a few easy planning steps, parents will be unable to help their child with medical or financial decisions. So, before you load up the car with mini fridges and microwaves, a pit stop at your estate planner should be at the top of your list of things to do.

Here are the documents everyone over the age of 18 should sign:

  • A Health Care Proxy and HIPAA Release
  • Durable Power of Attorney

A Health Care Proxy and HIPAA Release are necessary to make medical decisions and receive medical information for someone over the age of eighteen. Being away from home at eighteen years old can be an exciting prospect, but it can also be intimidating and a bit scary for those who have lived at home up until this point. Having a Health Care Proxy and HIPAA Release can alleviate some of this anxiety. The fact is, a quarter-million young adults (ages of 18-25) are hospitalized in America with non-lethal injuries every year. With these documents in place, parents and guardians can be there for their loved ones without needing a court to intervene.

The power of attorney is also important, especially if financial help is still being provided to the student, which is often the case when children are in college. While many young adults will be willing to sign this document for the security and assurance that it provides a family, there are others who may be skeptical. One reason for this hesitance is that a durable power of attorney will give unlimited access to a student’s records, including their grades and transcript. Speak with your child about the reasons that a power of attorney is important, and most likely the good it provides will outweigh their hesitation.

While Estate Planning sounds like an unnecessary prospect for a college-age adult, these documents will provide peace of mind for both parent and student. Send your children back to school with confidence, knowing that while they further their education and explore their independence, you will still be there to support and care for them when they need it.

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