College Students Need Estate Planning, Too

Do you have a recent high school graduate in your family? Congratulations! We would like to help you send your child off to college well prepared. Implementing some basic estate planning can make the college experience safer and more secure. These are a few things your child should take care of before he or she flies the nest.

Now that your child is legally an adult, s/he should have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Although your child is likely to have a healthy and happy time at college, accidents and unexpected illnesses happen. Once your child turns 18 years old, you are not automatically considered a decision-maker on their behalf. If you want to ensure you can make health care decisions for your child in the event s/he is unable to do so, your child should execute a health care power of attorney naming you their health care agent.

A HIPAA Authorization goes hand-in-hand with the health care power of attorney, granting the designated agent authorization to communicate with health care professionals, insurance companies, and to gain access to any necessary medical records. In today’s privacy-protection climate, you would be hard-pressed to get answers to even very basic questions regarding your adult child’s health care without a HIPAA Authorization.

Similarly, a Durable Power of Attorney which addresses finances and property will give you the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of your child, if needed. For instance, if your child is hospitalized, you could use this power of attorney to access financial accounts and records to pay bills and even to manage any student loans, grants, or bursar statements your child may have.

As an adult, your child is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This Act works well for protecting student privacy, but there are situations when you may want to talk to school officials or have access to your child’s educational records. Without an executed Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Release, school officials may refuse to talk with you, deny access to records, and decline to share any information about your student’s academic record.

Your child also should consider creating a Last Will and Testament. Although most students have yet to accumulate significant wealth, it would be wise to discuss with your child what happens when someone passes away so you can understand their wishes. Having a properly executed Will allows parents to honor their child’s choices. It should also direct the disposition of personal assets, including digital media accounts, and clarify choices for funeral arrangements.

At Kling Law Offices, we understand the ways in which good planning can make things easier when the unexpected happens. By sending your child off to college with the proper estate planning documents in place, we believe you will feel empowered and secure knowing you have the tools to provide meaningful help in a difficult situation. Call us today for your free consultation about estate planning for your college student.