Did you know that only 1 in 4 Americans have estate planning, and an alarming number of these Americans are middle-age or older? While this statistic may surprise you, most of us do not realize that we need estate planning as soon as we turn 18 years of age.
For the parents of college students this is especially alarming as you may not have the financial, legal, or medical authority to help your child in a crisis, or even when times are good and you just want to make a deposit for extra spending money. As the spring semester begins for most college students, we want to encourage you to create planning documents to protect your child while he or she is away at college. Let us share a few examples of these documents so you can make an informed decision about planning for your college student’s protection.
- Make a durable power of attorney.
There is a lot to think about when your child goes to college in a different city or state. What happens if your child has an issue with his or her apartment lease or you need to wire money from his or her bank account? If a legal or financial situation arises while your son or daughter is away, having a completed durable power of attorney can allow you to act and make decisions on his or her behalf. If you do not have a durable power of attorney, and your child is over the age of 18, institutions such as banks, rental companies, and universities cannot disclose information about your child to you.
- Create health care documents.
It can be difficult to plan for your child getting into an accident or being diagnosed with a serious illness. This is why, while creating your durable power of attorney, we encourage you to include a health care power of attorney and HIPAA authorization form at the same time. This way, if your child experiences a medical emergency or your child wants you to stay in the loop about his or her health, you can receive medical information from doctors. In the event of a crisis, you will be prepared and able to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf if it is necessary.
- Talk to your child about his or her choices.
Your child leaving for college can be an emotional time for everyone involved. Remember, however, to talk to your child about your reasons for wanting to create estate planning documents for his or her protection. Your child, for example, may not immediately want you to have access to his or her bank account or medical information. Explaining the importance of establishing a durable power of attorney and health care documents can help your child understand and give you both peace of mind.
We know that protecting your college student is at the top of your priority list. These are just a few ways that you can take advantage of estate planning to help accomplish this. Do you have additional suggestions? Are you ready to update your estate planning? Do not wait to contact us to schedule a meeting.