Happy Wednesday!!! With graduation season upon us, I wanted to take the time to stress the importance of basic estate planning for your future college student.
Implementing basic documents protects your college student against unforeseen accidents, will give you peace of mind, and will keep you in the know. For example, if your 18 year old is hospitalized for any reason, car accident, alcohol poisoning or exhaustion, the doctors can only share very basic information with you. This problem is compounded if your child is incapacitated and cannot communicate their wishes to you or their doctors. Things are even more complicated if your child is living in another state.
The tiniest bit of planning, even for an 18 year old, can make the world of difference. Here are the most essential documents that should be put in place before they hit the road:
1. HIPAA Release: HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act prohibits healthcare providers from releasing your health care information to anyone unless you have provided your doctor with a HIPAA release form. This includes parents! Having your child sign a HIPAA Release allows you to access information when you need it most.
2. Directive to Physicians (a/k/a “Living Will”): Living Wills state your wishes as they pertain to your healthcare. It provides you the opportunity to tell your loved ones and your doctors your preferred course of treatment if you were in a permanently vegetative state. It can also alleviate a lot of pain and fighting between family members.
3. Medical Proxy: A medical proxy allows someone you appoint to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. Your proxy can advocate for your wishes and approve a proper course of treatment. By not naming a medical proxy you run the risk of a family fight over the proper course of action. Remember Terri Schiavo?
4. Durable Power of Attorney: A Power of attorney allows somebody to manage your legal affairs in the event of your incapacity. A loved one of your choice can step into your shoes and handle any of your contractual obligations. This includes accessing bank accounts, dealing with credit card companies, and managing any contracts with your child’s university. A power of attorney is especially helpful if your children attend school somewhere else and you need them to sign any important paperwork at home.
So, before your children run off to their dorms, consider implementing a plan to keep them safe and to keep you empowered.
Until next time,