College Students Need to Think About Estate Planning, Too

This one’s for you, parents. 

The time you never thought would come is fast approaching. We’re referring to that moment when you drop off your son or daughter at college and come back to an empty room at your house. We understand the emotions you’re feeling. While your adult child is no longer under your direct purview, you still want to take reasonable steps to keep him or her safe. An important component of this is having your child sign a few estate planning documents before his or her first day of class. 

Powers of Attorney

You might have broached the subject of having a power of attorney for your aging parents. It is also a worthwhile conversation to have with your college-aged kids. Because your child is 18, he or she is now legally an adult. Your ability to access your child’s medical records, make certain decisions about his or her medical care, or even get information about your child’s medical condition is severely hampered. If your child ends up in the hospital after a serious accident, the hospital isn’t obligated to tell you anything. 

You can prevent this issue by having your child sign a power of attorney. Essentially, this estate planning document allows a designated agent (you) to do certain things on behalf of the principal (your child). Now, there are multiple types of power of attorney. Two of the most salient types for college students are: 

  • Durable (General) Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney allows an agent to act on the principal’s behalf even when the principal is incapacitated due to injury or illness. An agent with general power of attorney has broad authority to handle the principal’s financial affairs and other matters.
  • Medical Power of Attorney. If your child does become incapacitated and doesn’t have a living Will, he or she needs someone to make important decisions about medical care. Signing a medical power of attorney gives you the authority to make a variety of care-related decisions, including choosing to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. This is a difficult—but necessary—conversation. 

HIPAA Release Forms

In addition to a medical power of attorney, your child should also sign an authorization form that allows you to access his or her medical records. This might be accomplished through a medical power of attorney, but it’s worthwhile to make doubly sure. 

Your Child is An Adult Now

It probably seems like yesterday that your child was headed to preschool or kindergarten for the first time. The next first day of school for your child will be quite different, though, and it comes with extra considerations. The summer before his or her freshman year of college is a good time to start a conversation about estate planning. Being prepared for contingencies means saving you and other family members a lot of stress down the road. If you have any questions about estate planning, Albright & Lumpkin would be happy to help. You can call us at (281) 736-1324.

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Albright & Lumpkin, PC

At Albright & Lumpkin, we help individuals, families, and business owners achieve their goals and protect their futures.

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