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March 16, 2022

It feels like our children grow up way too quickly, and this reality hits us the hardest when they turn 18 and become legally recognized adults. Seeing them leave for college and live without you is difficult for many parents. How they will handle making important financial and healthcare decisions without you is a frequent worry. But once of legal age, many of these areas are beyond our control.

Because you no longer have any say as their legal guardian once they turn 18 years old, wondering how you can help them in times of emergency is likely on your mind. This is why the estate planning attorneys of Legacy Law encourage you to speak with your college student about planning for the unexpected so you can be there to help.

Why Your College Student Should Take Control of Their Assets Early

Imagining your child becoming incapacitated or unable to care for themselves as an adult is a devastating thought. Failing to have a strategy to deal with these worst-case scenarios can make a tragedy even worse. Working with an experienced Florida estate planning lawyer can prove beneficial for many reasons. Not only can they ensure the choices your student makes about their property and future are well-informed, but they can provide all the necessary form and customize their estate plan to fit their needs.

This step is crucial to protect your child’s rights and wishes under the law. While you may still provide the majority of their support and advice, they are still entitled to privacy protections. Situations where you might need to speak with a medical provider or financial institution, are all but impossible if you do not have their authorized consent.

The Essentials of an Estate Plan for Your College Student

Before your child moves to their new dorm, you should already have their estate planning documents prepared. While they may not have significant assets right now, you should still consider all of the authorizations needed should they become medically incapacitated at the very least. This means more than just a will or trust, but the following essential documentation:

Health Care Proxy

Also called a Designation of Health Care Surrogate in Florida, this document gives you the legal authorization to speak on your child’s behalf with their physicians if incapacitated. Not having this essential estate plan tool in place will mean having to pursue court orders to make possibly life-saving medical decisions for them if they cannot. You might also need to have more than one proxy set up if your student will be attending school outside of Florida.

HIPAA Authorization

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects your medical records from unauthorized access, even by close family members. This is why a HIPAA authorization is necessary for students who wish their parents to have access to their medical information in the case of an unexpected illness or injury that requires their assistance.

Durable Power of Attorney

With a durable power of attorney, you can step in and assist in your child’s financial matters. This means having access to their checking and savings account, student loan matters, and other related matters. No matter where they might be residing, this document ensures you can protect their financial interests if tragedy strikes. Florida allows holders of this power of attorney can use this authority as soon as you sign it. This means your child can have you handle their tax filings and pay creditor expenses.

Living Will

One way to give your child true power over their health is a living will. This document allows them to predetermine if they want life-sustaining measures used should they need them and even decide if their organs should be donated if they die.

FERPA

This is a useful addition to your child’s HIPAA authorization because not all states consider it enough to gain access to their medical information stored in their school transcripts. One way to access their education records is to have them sign a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act authorization. This document can also help you obtain their tuition and scholarship information along with any treatment they might have received at a university clinic or hospital.

Will or Trust

While creating a will or trust is not necessary for all colleges, those who will inherit significant assets may need one. Without one of these important estate planning options in place, if your child should die, their inheritance would go through Florida probate and be given to the next of kin according to intestate succession law. This could mean assets going to family members never intended to receive such property. A will or trust can help avoid this situation.

While we never imagine our child needing to consider planning for unexpected events like injury or terminal illness, not doing so causes more pain and frustration for all involved. Taking the time to review the importance of being prepared for life’s surprises with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney is a wise choice. Not only will they thoroughly review how all of these documents work, but they can advise you and your college student on which are ideal for your family’s needs.

Estate Planning for Your College Student and Other Adult Children

If your child has reached adulthood and is heading off to college soon, it is vital to start planning now. Waiting until you need access to their financial and medical information could mean costly court hearings and decisions being made beyond your control.

We want your child to have the brightest future problem, and one way to achieve this goal is to plan their estate properly. Call us today at (954) 999-9683 or contact us online to discuss your child’s college situation and get the protections they need to give everyone peace of mind.