You may still be recovering from letting your child go to college. Your feelings were surely a mix of pride, fear, and concern. Your child is no longer living at home and is out on their own, free of your rules but also your positive daily influence and advice. You probably worried about whether you did enough to prepare them or help make the transition easier. What else could you have done?
Fortunately, there is something that you can still do. Wherever your child is, you can help your child create an estate plan and meet with a local attorney.
You may not have known that once your child turned 18, you lost several of your parental rights because your child is now an adult. So, if something happened to your son or daughter while at college, they would probably trust you most to make those important financial and medical decisions, but you can no longer automatically step in and make those decisions. Without documents that give you that authority, you have to go to court to get that authority, which takes time and is not simple or efficient.
Not wanting to scare you, but according to Forbes, about 250,000 adults between 18 and 25 have to go to a hospital and the parents cannot help make important decisions.
Estate Planning Documents for College
Because of that, it is important for your child to have several important documents, even if they do not have much money. Here are some of those documents to take care of for your college-age children:
- A FERPA Release: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects students’ privacy, but does allow for parents to access a child’s school records if needed.
- A HIPAA Authorization: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects a medical patient’s privacy. This documents lists those individuals that doctors are allowed to talk with and provide information on your child’s medical situation if they are in the hospital.
- A Durable Financial Power of Attorney: This document states who can make financial decisions for your child if they are incapacitated and what decisions they can make.
- A Medical Power of Attorney: This document essentially the same as the durable financial power of attorney but for medical decisions.
- A Will: A will may seem like more than what a college student needs, but young adults often have assets that we did not think about. For example, a bank account, e-mail, social media and other online accounts, or a Playstation or XBox account. Each of these assets need to be taken care of if the worst should happen to your child.
Helping your child think about these things can go a long way in helping them develop responsibility during their college years, which will serve them greatly as they move into adulthood and greater responsibility.