Posted on September 21, 2023 by Amanda Whitely
As college students prepare to move into campus housing and attend orientation, estate planning is likely the last thing on their mind. However, when a person turns 18, health care decisions and managing financial matters no longer reside with the parent. Having certain estate planning documents in place prior to the start of the school year will give parents the ability to step in on behalf of their college student in the event of an emergency, which should provide both the parents and the college student with peace of mind.
When heading off to college, whether the college is local or across the country, it is highly recommended to put in place the following ancillary estate planning documents: Durable Power of Attorney for Assets, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information. Below is a description of each document and how it works.
Durable Power of Attorney for Assets
This Power of Attorney is designed to avoid court supervised guardianship proceedings in the event of legal incapacity. The parents acting on their college student’s behalf under this document will have the power to manage their assets and finances in much the same way that they would be able to do that for themselves. For example, this document will allow the parents to pay bills from the college student’s accounts, make deposits, open or close accounts, and file tax returns.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
This Power of Attorney is designed to allow the parents to make health care decisions for their college student if they become incapable of giving informed consent to health care decisions. Prior to leaving to college, the parents and the college student should have a conversation about their own wishes regarding medical treatment.
Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information
This document allows disclosure of protected health information to the parents in order to allow the parents to make informed health care decisions on behalf of their college student. The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (known as HIPPA) protects the privacy of health information and health care providers may require written consent to share information with the parents. This document is designed to be the written consent that authorizes health care providers to share medical information with the parents as the co-agents for their college student. We would also recommend reaching out to the college or university to confirm that this authorization for disclosure is sufficient for the release of protected medical information.
The Estate Planning Attorneys at Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson PLLC are available to assist with these estate planning matters in preparation for back to school.