May is graduation month. This is a time when many of you may be celebrating your children’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. There are a few important things you should add to your to-do list as you get ready to send your kids 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 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 you as health care agent for the child, you cannot make medical decisions on your child’s behalf. If you want to ensure that you can continue to make healthcare decisions for your child, creating a health care power of attorney should be at the top of your to-do list.
2. HIPPA Authorization
In order to make informed medical decisions, it’s important to include a HIPPA authorization form along with a health care power of attorney. Without it, you 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 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 their 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 parents locked out in an emergency. A properly worded release can allow you 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 their child leaves home, it’s an important one to add to the list. A will allows parents to honor their 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.