Graduating high school is an exciting occasion for many students. However, between celebrating their high school accomplishments and preparing for new experiences in higher education, college students should consider starting their estate plan.
Most college students do not have significant assets to plan for, but as new adults they need to consider what happens if they become incapacitated due to an injury or illness. Because parents cannot make decisions for their children after they become a legal adult, college students should have three estate planning documents in place: financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney and a HIPAA authorization.
Who makes important decisions for students in an emergency?
While college students may not have significant assets, this new stage in their life often comes with new responsibilities, including signing legal documents, paying bills and applying for assistance. If they become incapacitated, a financial power of attorney allows their agent—either a parent or another individual—to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf.
Who will make decisions about students’ health?
In a medical emergency, students may not be able to make important decisions about their care. Because of this, they should have legal documents in place that allow someone else to act on their behalf. This often starts with a HIPAA authorization, which allows otherwise private medical information to be shared with a third party.
Permission to view medical records is often only the first step. If a young person is unable to make decisions about their own care, a healthcare power of attorney allows a designated health care agent to make decisions about their treatment. This can include choosing their doctor or caregiver, choosing a care facility, making decisions about medication and choosing other treatments.
College students should give their estate plan careful consideration, and an attorney can help them choose the documents that will protect their health, their finances and their future.