Most of us hear “estate planning” and assume we’re talking about people over 50, but estate planning should be done for anyone who reaches the age of 18 — especially college students. While you might assume that you can make decisions in your college student’s behalf, the law thinks otherwise. As of 18 years, your child is legally an adult, which means if he or she doesn’t have the right estate planning documents in place, you can’t make decisions legally or medically on his or her behalf.
Advanced Health Care Directive
This document gives you control over your child’s medical care and decisions if he or she becomes incapacitated — such as, being injured in a serious car accident.
Power of Attorney
The power of attorney gives you say over your child’s financial accounts and allows you to access them. You can pay bills on his or her behalf, sell or purchase new assets or apply for government programs on his or her behalf.
One of the biggest estate planning documents missed by parents and college students is the HIPAA release. This release gives you access to your child’s medical records and allows you to communicate more effectively with medical professionals regarding your child’s care. Without a HIPAA release you may not be privy to essential medical information even if you are a healthcare proxy for your child.
Before you send your child off to college, meet with an estate planning professional in your area. It is important that you and your child are prepared for any emergency that the future may hold — whether temporary or permanent.