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Pack Your Kids Off To College With Estate Planning Documents

estate planning for college students

I know estate planning is not exactly the first thing any parent thinks about when kids head off to college for the first time. But it should be high on the list of priorities if your kid is 18 or older.

If you’re wondering why estate planning for college students is important… it’s because if something were to happen to your child – for instance if they got ill or were in an accident – you would not be entitled to participate in their health treatment.

As an 18-year-old, your child is considered an adult and must give consent for a variety of things.

Too many parents learn the hard way about the privacy afforded their college kids once they turn 18. Typically, the college can prevent parents from receiving any information from the school without your child’s consent. So, be sure to speak with your family attorney if you have a child heading to college this fall. Ask about the documents I’m highlighting below. Learning the hard way is never the way most of us would choose to learn life’s lessons. And this is one lesson that is not necessary for parents to learn the hard way. A little pre-planning can eliminate many misunderstandings and heartaches.

A Will

While you may think that a Will is an unnecessary document for a young college student, remember that accidents happen all the time. Of course, you will hopefully not need it, but it never hurts to have it. A Will can designate who can manage and/or close bank accounts, social media accounts, email accounts, gaming accounts and similar “properties”.

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Healthcare Directive

This legal document allows you or a designated person to make medical decisions for your child in the event he/she is unable to make his/her own decisions, and also sets forth their wishes and directives for treatment.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

This document allows you, the parent, to have access to and handle your child’s finances should the need arise. For example, if they are studying abroad, or if your child has a prolonged illness or injury you’ll be able to pay their bills, handle their checking account and credit cards.

HIPAA Authorization

We’ve all heard and know about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) designed to protect a patient’s privacy. If your child is over 18 years of age, HIPAA prevents doctors from speaking with you about their healthcare. A properly drafted HIPAA authorization document will ensure doctors can continue to speak to you about your child’s condition, care, and treatment.

FERPA Release

Many parents with first-time college aged children learn the hard way about the privacy protection afforded to college students under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA prevents a parent from receiving any information from school about a student, including grades, healthcare and more. It doesn’t matter if you are the parent or that you are paying the bills. A properly drafted and signed release allows school officials to speak with you and release your child’s records to you, including use of any school healthcare services.

Protect Your College Student And Yourself

Our kids grow up way too fast and it’s wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time to watch them make their way into the world. That first step is typically done when they head off to college. Creating an estate plan with and for your 18-year-old can provide a wonderful sense of peace for both parents and child. Before your child heads off to school this fall, give our office a call at 404-370-0696.



Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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