In heading off to college, the last thing you may be thinking about is estate planning for your child. But, once he or she turns 18, your access to their medical and other information is significantly limited because your child is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. So, before your kids go away, have a conversation with them about how much information – grades, finances, health records, etc. – you will be able to access.
Basic, Yet Crucial, Documents
Before your child heads off for school, he or she should consider completing the following basic estate planning documents:
1. Healthcare Power of Attorney with HIPPA Authorization
Most parents assume when their child is away to college and in need of medical attention (including mental health care) they will be immediately contacted and will have full rights to make decisions – this is simply not the case. Once your child turns 18, he or she is protected by HIPPA laws. This means health care professionals cannot provide medical information without your child’s signed consent. What if your child is incapacitated because of an accident and can’t give consent? If there is no signed HIPPA release at the time, then you may need a court order to be able to access your child’s health information. A healthcare power of attorney appoints you as an agent that is able to make medical decisions on behalf of your child in the event he or she becomes ill or incapacitated.
2. General Power of Attorney
Similar to a healthcare power of attorney, a general power of attorney appoints an agent to make financial and miscellaneous decisions on behalf of the individual. This can allow you to have access to your child’s finances including bank accounts, scholarship funds, rental agreements, and insurance matters just to name a few.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Many parents are actively involved in their college-aged children’s care and responsibility. Turning 18, however, changes the legal landscape when it comes to your rights to address your child’s needs. Preparing a legal plan for your college student ahead of time will greatly reduce any legal hurdles you may face as a family while they’re at school. Before sending your child off to college, give us a call so we can help you craft a plan that protects your most valuable asset – your children.
Contact Hamrick Law in Greenville, SC before your kids head off to school!