5 Things to Have Before Your Kids Go Off to College
May is graduation month. This is a time when many of you may be celebrating your child's academic achievements, and even getting ready to send them off to college. During this hectic and emotionally tumultuous time, you may be all-consumed with helping prepare your soon-to-be college student for the next phase, causing you to overlook important estate planning matters.
Now, is the perfect time to get a few important things you should add to your to-do list as your child gets ready to go off to college.
1. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Every year, roughly a quarter of a million young adults between the ages of 18-25 wind up in the hospital. From alcohol poisoning and nonlethal accidents to unexpected illnesses, it’s important to remind your clients to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Once a child reaches the age of 18, a parent’s decision making role is significantly diminished, especially in regards to making healthcare decisions.
Should your child get in a car accident, or fall ill and not be capable of making their own medical decisions, then without a durable power of attorney naming the parents as health care agents for the child, the parents cannot make medical decisions on their child’s behalf. If you want to ensure that you can continue to make healthcare decisions for your child, working with your child to create a health care power of attorney should be at the top of your to-do list.
2. HIPAA Authorization
In order to make informed medical decisions, it’s important to include a HIPAA authorization form along with a health care power of attorney. Without it, you, the parent, would be unable to communicate with healthcare professionals and insurance companies, as well as access your child’s health records and previous treatment information.
3. Durable Power of Attorney (Finances and Property)
Similar to a health care power of attorney, a financial power of attorney gives you, the parent, the ability to make financial decisions on your child’s behalf, should they be unable to do so themselves. Should your child become disabled for any reason, then you would still be able to pay your child’s rent, credit card bills, utilities, access bank accounts and financial records, as well as manage any loans they may have.
4. FERPA Release
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is designed to protect a college student’s privacy, but it can also leave you, the parent, locked out in an emergency. A properly worded release can allow parents to talk to school officials and release pertinent educational records and information should you need it.
5. Last Will and Testament
While many parents don’t want to think about this topic, especially as your child leaves home, it’s an important one to add to the list. A will allows parents to honor your child’s wishes on what should be done with their social media accounts, bank accounts, and personal assets. It also allows the child to specify any funeral arrangements they would like to have.
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