3 Estate Planning Documents Every College Student Needs

Turning 18 is an exciting time in your child’s life —so many opportunities and adventures await them. But turning 18 and going to college, especially during the current climate, has some hidden consequences many parents are unaware of.

When a child turns 18, they have become an adult in the eyes of the law and they are entitled to the same privacy protections that you are. As a parent, you can no longer make legal, health, or financial decisions for them and you will often be denied access to certain information. Privacy laws prohibit medical providers and financial institutions, including colleges and universities, from disclosing private information without your son or daughter’s consent. There are three documents our estate planning team recommends putting in place to make it easier for everyone in the event of an emergency.

1. Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney provides you with access to financial information relating to financial aid, student loans, and credit cards. A financial power of attorney can be especially helpful if your child becomes incapacitated by illness. It will also allow you to complete simple tasks for your child, such as renewing a passport or driver’s license, responding to a summons for jury duty, or updating a vehicle registration. You may be denied access to financial information even if you are the one making the tuition payments.

2. Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney (also known as a health care directive) allows you to make medical decisions in the case of an emergency, without the need for court involvement. If you are not your child’s nominated healthcare representative under a valid healthcare directive, you may be required to seek appointment as guardian of your own child—a time consuming and expensive process during an already difficult time.

3. HIPPA Authorization

A HIPPA Authorization allows access to medical information even if your child is not incapacitated. This document will also allow you to transfer medical records between facilities and to speak with healthcare providers regarding your son or daughter’s diagnosis and treatment options. Your child can also authorize you to access their online accounts for school, banking, email and social media. Your child might also consider executing an electronic authorization that would authorize you to access their online accounts such as bill pay, bank records, and shut down social media profiles if necessary.

If your son or daughter is attending an out-of-state school, you will want to consider having a power of attorney and healthcare directive for both their home state and for the state where they are attending school. These documents are also extremely important if your child decides to study abroad (when/if restrictions are lifted).

There is a lot to think about when you are preparing your child for college. So when you are researching computers, purchasing furniture and school supplies, and looking for student housing, make sure to make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to incorporate these documents into the college plan.


Questions About This Topic?

Contact us today if you have questions about this topic or if we can assist you with your Estate Planning needs. Fill out the form below, or call our Stillwater, MN office at 651-439-2878 or Hudson, WI office at 715-386-3733.

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