College is an exciting time for young adults, offering them an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and gradually experience a new level of independence in a safe environment. Legally speaking, however, they’ve already transitioned into adulthood. And that new-found status means a host of new rights and responsibilities for them while your ability as a parent to access their records, or take action on their behalf, is reduced. To avoid any potential issues, your son or daughter shouldn’t go off to college without creating a basic estate plan that includes the following documents:
Durable Power of Attorney
Odds are, your college-aged son or daughter is happy and healthy, but accidents do happen. If your child becomes incapacitated for any reason, and is unable to manage their affairs, a durable Power of Attorney will give you (or another trusted adult) the ability to handle important matters on their behalf until they regain the ability to do so. For example, your child can appoint you to pay their bills, manage their housing contract, and oversee tuition payments and student loan agreements. Also, let them know that a power of Attorney is simply a backup plan; so long as they have the capacity to make decisions, they are in charge. But, should they be seriously injured or fall ill, someone they can count on will be making sure everything runs smoothly.
Health Care Proxy and HIPPA Waiver
A Health Care Proxy is a document that allows your son or daughter to appoint a healthcare representative who will make medical decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to do so. Bear in mind that, if your child is attending college out of state, they may need to complete two healthcare proxies so that they are covered in both jurisdictions.
While designating a healthcare representative is the primary goal of a Health Care Proxy, there is a another crucial component: HIPAA compliance. HIPAA is a federal law that restricts the ability of medical providers to give someone’s health records to a third-party. If your child’s Health Care Proxy lacks a valid waiver of their HIPAA privacy rights, their healthcare representative will be unable to access their medical records and hospital staff will not discuss sensitive medical issues with them. As such, an effective Health Care Proxy must include specific language that authorizes a healthcare provider to release your son or daughter’s confidential health information to their chosen representative.
A Basic Will
If your son or daughter has assets in their own name, like a bank account or car, they need a will. For most young people, a simple will is sufficient to ensure that their possessions are given to the right person or organization. They may also want to consider including instructions for handling any digital assets they may have, such as their social media and email accounts.
Whether your undergrad is about to head home for the holidays, or isn’t making the leap to college until 2019, it’s never too early to help them plan for the future. If your son or daughter could use some assistance setting up an estate plan, get in touch with a trusted estate planning lawyer today.