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Estate Planning with a College-Age Child?

college-age estate planning
If you have a college-aged child, estate planning is probably the last thing on your mind.

College-age estate planning is not a commonly-known concept.  Your estate planning should include designating someone who can make healthcare-related decisions on their behalf, if they’re unable. This can be a helpful—and potentially necessary—first step in estate planning that benefits both the student and her family.

Forbes’ recent article, “3 Estate Planning Documents Every College Student Needs,” explains that because most college students are at least 18 years old—technically adults—they’re responsible for all decisions regarding their health. In addition, due to the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), parents have no legal right to their adult children’s medical records or other healthcare-related information.

This obstacle makes it hard—if not impossible—for parents to help in the event that their college-aged child needs medical help, especially from a distance. HIPAA also applies, even when the student is still on her parents’ medical insurance.

College-age estate planning can help.  Parents should have certain documents in place before the worst happens, to avoid many of these challenges. The following legal documents make it much simpler for parents to assist their college-aged children, in the event of a medical emergency:

  • HIPAA authorization: This lets an individual’s health information to be used by or disclosed to a third party.
  • Medical/healthcare power of attorney: This lets a person name another person to be their agent, if they’re no longer able to make decisions on their own healthcare.
  • Durable power of attorney: This can be used to give another individual the authority to make healthcare decisions, make financial transactions, or sign legal documents on a person’s behalf, if they become mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform these activities for themselves.

These documents can vary by state, so it’s prudent to complete the forms relevant to the state where the student is at school. Some schools have their own forms, so check with the school.

Consult your estate planning attorney about these estate planning documents.

Reference: Forbes (November 4, 2019) “3 Estate Planning Documents Every College Student Needs”


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