Estate Planning and College

Many students are going off to college at this time of year. A great deal of planning goes into the first year of college.  There is usually hustle and bustle getting the necessary items, laptops, clothes, bedding, shelves and other dorm room essentials. Then there is the road trip and the inevitable emotional goodbyes.

An often overlooked item for a new college bound student is a health-care or medical proxy. As parents we still think of our 18-year-old children as children regardless of how adult they might be.  We forget that we do not have the same legal rights as parents once they are legally adults.

In these days of HIPAA privacy rights, a sick or injured son or daughter would have to give permission for the parent to have access to medical information. If the child is incapacitated, getting that permission becomes much harder. It is prudent to take care of this before a problem arises.

A health-care proxy, prepared in advance, allows a child to appoint the parent(s) as the proxy (or agent). The health-care proxy is best done with a living will, which allows the student to give directions about life extending medical procedures. A signed HIPAA form is also suggested as part of the package.

A completed and executed durable power of attorney authorizes the parents to manage financial affairs and sign legal documents on behalf of the student.

Also suggested is a will to spell out what happens to any assets owned by the student in the event of his or her death. Most college students have few possessions, but the will can be used to name beneficiaries of these and other assets.

Be sure to distribute copies to all parties as soon as they are completed.

The most affordable solution I have found for these and many other legal issues is LegalShield.

While not part of an estate planning scenario, if the child is still part of the family medical insurance, parents should explore any limitations of coverage that may come into play if the student is out-of-state or takes some courses abroad.