Why would an eighteen year old need to consider estate planning?

If they are like most college students, they have very few assets and no children. And that may be entirely true (though not always). But complete estate planning isn’t just about the Last Will and Testament. There are four documents every eighteen year old should consider having in their estate plan:

Health-care Proxy
HIPAA Release
Living Will
Power of Attorney

Your ‘baby’ is an adult under the eyes of the law when he or she celebrates their 18th birthday. That means parents lose access to medical and financial records of their 18-year-old. That’s true even when Jr. is living at home and his parents are paying the bills. But sometimes an 18-year-old still needs help from their parents, especially in an emergency. Planning ahead for various contingencies is important and can give everyone peace of mind.

It’s true that college students deserve their independence. After all, they are adults under. So it’s important to know that giving mom, dad, or another trusted friend or relative authority under these documents isn’t necessarily absolute. Healthcare documents only spring into action when the patient is unable to make medical decisions for themselves and all of the documents can be tailored to balance a child’s needs with their desire for privacy and independence.

If you are the parent of a child headed safely off to college, or are a college student preparing for a new semester, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Brackney Law Office, PLLC, to discuss a plan that is appropriate for your family. You can either call (859) 559-4648 or fill out this online form.

Health-care Proxy

What if your child is injured and unable to make medical decisions for him or herself? The now-adult may want to appoint either mom or dad, or perhaps another trusted friend or relative, to act as health-care proxy.

A health-care proxy, also known as a designation of health-care surrogate, allows an individual to grant authority to make medical decisions for them in the event that the patient is unable to do so.

HIPAA Release

Another healthcare-releated document is the HIPAA Release. Under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, those offering medical treatment must protect their patient’s privacy. By executing a HIPAA Release, you authorize an individual access to medical records and information. Often, this individual is the same as the health-care proxy. College students may be wary of giving mom or dad carte blanche access to their medial information, but these documents can be narrowly tailored as well.

Living Will

The final healthcare-related document that should be included in every college student’s estate plan is the living will. This document, also known as an advanced care directive, outlines a person’s general wishes about life-extending medical treatment. It also can provide information about an individual’s wishes about organ donation.

In the event tragedy strikes, it’s important to know what kind of medical treatment the child would want. The health-care proxy, if designated, and medical professionals can utilize a patient’s living will in determining a course of treatment or whether it is appropriate to withdraw care. Although it’s difficult to think about the possibility that tragedy might strike, having plans in place can help families through difficult times.

Copies of the Living Will, along with copies of the Heath-care Proxy and the HIPAA Release, should be given to both the child’s physicians as well as the individual serving as proxy.

Power of Attorney

Executing a power of attorney allows someone else to act on your behalf. Often, we think of a power of attorney as only being needed when an individual is incapacitated, but this tool can be incredibly useful if someone is unavailable.

It’s especially important for college students who are out-of-state at college or studying for a semester abroad to have executed a power of attorney. The individual with the college student’s power of attorney could be able to talk with a landlord, pay debts, renew car registration, manage bank accounts, or file tax returns.

The powers delegated under a general durable power of attorney can be limited and tailored to individual needs.

If your family has a college student or a recent high school grad, consider contacting an experienced estate planning attorney at Brackney Law Office, PLLC, to discuss a plan that is appropriate for your family. You can either call (859) 559-4648 or fill out this online form.