Does my college-aged child need estate planning documents?

Shot of a group of cheerful multicultural students on graduation day

Yes! Most people would be surprised to hear that their college-aged child needs estate planning documents. At age eighteen, a child is legally considered an adult but may still benefit from the assistance and guidance of their parents in making medical decisions, accessing care, or managing their finances. The execution of basic estate planning documents can help manage these new challenges.

The basic, voluntary estate planning documents are:

A college-aged child probably does not need a will unless they own real property, have a bank or investment account in excess of $25,000, or have young children of their own. In these unique situations, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about a will.

A Health Care Advance Directive allows the signer to appoint a decision maker for health care decisions. If your child appoints you as their health care representative, you will be able to make health care decisions and communicate with health care providers on their behalf in the event they cannot or will not do so.

Because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applies to the personal information of adults, you may no longer be able to access important information about your child’s care. By signing a HIPAA release form, your child can give written authorization allowing care providers to continue to release otherwise protected information to you.

A Durable Financial Power of Attorney allows one person to appoint another to serve as his or her agent. By signing a Durable Financial Power of Attorney naming you as their agent, your child isn’t giving up legal rights or control, (he or she can still access accounts and make decisions about finances) but allowing you to act and access information on their behalf. This can be particularly useful as your child signs financial aid documents, rents their first apartment and begins to learn to manage their own credit. If your child attends college away from home, having a power of attorney can allow you to sign documents.

In the case of a child with special needs, who has recently turned 18 it can be particularly important to plan for access to information and continuation of care. Depending on the ability of your child to make their own decisions, it may be necessary to seek Guardianship. See our blog post about specific considerations for special needs children upon turning age eighteen.

If you are interested in discussing documents that will allow you to guide and assist your college-aged child, call to set an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg LLC today at (503) 245-0894.