August is typically the month where recent high school graduates leave their homes and begin their college careers. This moment has been years in the making, and your family has likely prepared with college prep courses, SAT studying, college visits, financial strategizing and plenty of trips to Target for dorm necessities. But what about estate and disability planning for your child?
Once your child turns eighteen, your rights as a parent cease. This means you do not have the right to go the bank for them, consult with their doctors, or speak with their school regarding grades and financial matters. It means you are no longer able to make decisions or respond when legal issues or emergencies arise.
With proper estate planning, parents may legally step in when their children need them most. The following documents are estate planning tools that every parent and young adult should seriously consider.
Medical Power of Attorney: Hospital staff often refuse to speak with parents about a child’s medical status because no HIPAA authorization or medical power of attorney has been signed. Imagine the agony of not knowing your child’s medical status while she is in a hospital hours away.
Durable Power of Attorney: While college offers young adults an opportunity to learn about being financially responsible and self-reliant, a durable power of attorney will act as a safety net for young adults. A durable power of attorney may authorize a parent to manage a child’s financial and legal affairs. With a durable power of attorney, a parent may pay bills, open and close accounts, apply for government benefits, inquire about loans, ect. A durable power of attorney can be especially helpful if your child will reside far away or spend a semester abroad.
If your child is heading off to college this year, be sure to sit down and create a plan for handling unexpected obstacles and emergencies. Add estate planning to the College To-Do List; you’ll be glad you did.