Your college-aged children are adults in the eyes of the law. This means you no longer have the same legal rights regarding your child. So what sort of estate planning does your student need?
While children are legally minors, parents retain the right to make decisions for their children. These rights, the right to make health and financial decisions for their child, are taken for granted. But once they become a legal adult, these rights automatically cut off without warning.
For example, when your child turns 18, you do not have access to their bank account. You are not able to access medical information or make medical decisions on their behalf.
Fortunately, there are steps that your adult child can take that will empower you to continue to act on their behalf. Basic estate planning documents designed for college-aged student can help parents to continue to act on their child’s behalf.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An Advanced Health Care Directive consists of two documents, a medical power off attorney and living will. The medical power of attorney designates an agent to make health care decisions. If your child becomes incapacitated or hospitalized, you will be empowered to make decisions without delay.
The living will portion of the Advanced Health Care Directive sets forth your child’s view as to certain medical conditions, such as being placed on life-support when near death with no hope of recovery. Knowing your child’s wishes will make life a little easier to cope with the decisions that may need to be made. It will also assist medical professionals to provide options consistent with those views.
HIPAA is the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law is designed to protect the privacy of an individual’s medical information. It provides strong penalties for medical professionals who reveal medical information to unauthorized persons, including the child’s parents.
Your child can complete a HIPAA Authorization to name you as authorized recipients of any medical information. This will make it easier to learn critical information about the health and welfare of your child.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney designates an agent as a financial agent. As your child’s agent, you may be able to access bank accounts, write checks, and maintain the child’s financial well-being should the need arise. You can also monitor your child’s credit activity to make sure they are not endangering their credit rating as many college students do.