Heading off to college soon or sending your child off in the coming weeks? The back-to-school season is in full swing and many parents are preparing for their child to go off to college. Students and their families have carefully selected the university of choice that the student has worked so hard to be accepted to. Countless stores are advertising colorful bedding and accessories for the perfect dorm room setup. You or your child may think that he or she is all set to go! College freshman will be learning and meeting people from all over and having new experiences, beginning their adult life.
What may surprise you is that, as an adult, the average college freshman needs some basic estate planning documents. Estate planning for an 18 year old? That’s right, a college student is an adult, which comes with new-found responsibilities. While you or your child may not have much in the way of assets and a will may not be necessary, there are still some other basic estate planning documents that are absolutely essential.
One of these important documents includes a health-care proxy. That means that if, in an unexpected turn of events, a child were to get sick or hurt and need medical treatment that a parent will be able to make medical decisions for him or her if he or she cannot express their wishes. The student should also have a HIPAA (Health Care Portability and Accountability Act) release form so that their parents can get even the most basic medical information about their child. Without this form, the medical staff treating you or your child will not be able to release any information to a relative. If a child were to be unable to communicate, the parents may actually have to start legal proceedings and have a court appoint them guardians in order to be able to make medical decisions! All this frustration can be saved with some basic estate planning.
Even if there is not an emergency, estate planning can be useful simply for conveniences. Children with a strong relationship to their parents may want them to take care of paperwork, deal with their landlord, sign their lease, etc. A parent, or any another trusted adult, will need a power of attorney granting him or her the proper authority. College students may sometimes be hesitant to give this authority to their parents because they feel that they are adults, however, in many cases a gentle reminder that their parents are still there for them emotionally and financially (tuition, health insurance, etc.) may help them to remember that they are still transitioning and will very likely need their parents in their corner for a few more years.