College Bound & Covered: Essential Estate Planning Docs for Students

By Ledly Jennings, Esq | Estate Planning Attorney

As a parent, sending your child off to college is a monumental milestone. It’s an exciting yet nerve-wracking transition, filled with a whirlwind of preparations. Amidst the chaos of packing, shopping and advice-giving, there’s one crucial item often overlooked on the checklist: estate planning.

Protect them. Without the right legal documents in place, parents may not have the legal authority to intervene in their college-bound child’s financial, health or digital affairs during an emergency. This lack of authority can lead to bureaucratic hurdles and agonizing delays at the time when swift decisions might be most needed.

Here are five essential estate planning documents your college-bound kid needs before stepping foot on campus.

  1. Last Will and Testament: Even at their young age, your child likely owns possessions with sentimental or monetary value. A Will helps ensure that these items, from family heirlooms to cars, are distributed as per their wishes should anything unexpected happen. It’s an assurance that their valued possessions will be safeguarded.
  2. Durable Power of Attorney: This document enables your child to name a trusted individual (typically a parent) to manage their financial affairs if they’re unable to do so. This can range from paying bills to ensuring a part-time job paycheck gets deposited correctly. Having this document in place can offer you and your child peace of mind during their college years.
  3. Health Care Power of Attorney: Entrusting someone with medical decision-making power is a big step. This document allows your child to appoint a trusted person (often a parent) to make critical health decisions on their behalf if they’re unable to do so.
  4. HIPAA Release: Medical information is deeply personal and protected by law. A HIPAA release form authorizes healthcare providers to share your child’s medical information with designated individuals. As parents, this ensures you’re kept in the loop if a health emergency arises.
  5. Digital Assets Inventory: The digital world is second nature to today’s young adults. From social media to online banking, it’s important to have a plan for these digital assets. Your child can create a secure list of their digital footprints, accessible only under specific circumstances.

The idea of estate planning for your college-bound kid might seem unsettling. However, it’s a proactive measure that can significantly simplify matters during difficult times. As parents, we hope these documents will stay unused and tucked away. But having them provides an added layer of security and peace of mind. As your family gears up for the exciting journey of college, consider hiring professional help to ensure these crucial steps are implemented accurately and efficiently. Your child’s future is worth that investment. What to chat about it? We’re here to help.

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