Preparing for college can be exhausting for both the student and their parents. Between paying tuition, getting registered for classes, and setting up a dorm room or apartment, there’s a lot of time and money involved. One of the most important aspects of planning for college that’s often overlooked is setting up some basic estate planning documents. Even if your child isn’t going away to college, Thousand Oaks will and trust attorneys will tell you that these documents are still important for your young adult to have in place.
That’s because once your child turns 18, he or she is considered an adult under the law. This means that mom or dad is no longer automatically entitled to the same rights they had when the child was still a minor. In order for you to have control over their healthcare and finances if they become incapacitated in any way, you’ll now need to make sure that your family has at least three important documents in place.
Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will
By setting up a Medical Power of Attorney or Healthcare Directive, your child can appoint you as the person who will make medical decisions on his or her behalf if they are unable to do so. You may also want to have your child create a Living Will that explains what their wishes are when it comes to life-saving measures. Knowing what your child would want will ease some of the burden of making such decisions should the time come. If your child is attending college in another state, consult with an estate planning attorney in that state to make sure the documents meet the necessary legal requirements.
When your child was a minor, you automatically had access to most of his or her medical records. The only exception may have been records related to personal and sensitive conditions such as drug use or birth control. Now that he or she is an adult, you won’t have access to that information unless your child gives permission. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), healthcare providers cannot release a person’s medical records without a HIPAA release form. This form identifies who is allowed to have access, so your child may want to include both parents on the form. A HIPAA release form can be obtained from your healthcare provider or an estate planning attorney.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney applies to an individual’s financial information, naming an agent who will be allowed to make financial decisions in the event that the individual becomes incapacitated. This document would grant the parent authority to manage bank accounts and pay bills on behalf of the adult child. This authority can take effect as soon as it is signed, or it can be set up so that it only takes effect under specific conditions such as the person becoming incapacitated.
Regardless of how much property your child has or the financial value of their assets, they should still have these three essential documents prepared. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time or money to get it done. If you’d like help getting started, our Thousand Oaks will and trust attorneys can guide you and your adult child through the process. Just call (805) 409-3878 to set up a consultation.