Don’t Send Your Child to College Without an Estate Plan
Sending a child off to college brings with it a host of emotions and a very long to-do list, from making that first tuition payment to setting up a bank account and purchasing dorm bedding. Before you pack up the laptop and the other necessities of college life, set aside time to create an estate plan for your new young adult. For even though you may still be supporting your child in many ways, once he or she reaches the age of 18, they are adults in the eyes of the law. This milestone is important because, from this point on, you no longer automatically have access to their financial or medical information. Should your child need medical attention and be unable to communicate, you may be unable to obtain any information regarding your child’s medical condition or whereabouts.
Designate a financial power of attorney
Now that your child is considered an adult, you will no longer have access to their financial information. By having your child designate a financial power of attorney, that individual – often a parent – can obtain their financial information at any time. This is important should the child’s credit card be lost and need replacing, or if bills need to be paid due to the child being away at college or for other reasons.
Sign a HIPAA release
Patient privacy is protected by HIPPA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Your child, upon reaching the age of 18 years old, gains the legal right to privacy as an adult. By signing a release from HIPPA, your child gives permission for their medical information to be released to those individuals specified, including their medical condition and location. Without a signed release, medical personnel may not share this information with you and you may be unable to find out if your child has been admitted to the hospital.
Appoint a healthcare proxy
A healthcare proxy is a legal document that allows the individual to appoint another person – a proxy – to make healthcare decisions on their behalf in situations where that individual is unable to do so. Again, even though you are the parent, once your child is considered an adult, you no longer automatically have the legal right to assume this role. Should your child be unable to make medical decisions, it is important that they have a healthcare proxy — a close family friend or relative – to act on their behalf.
We are here to help with your estate planning needs
Estate planning is an important step as your child makes the transition into young adulthood. When that time comes, the dedicated North Palm Beach estate planning attorneys at Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll are ready to assist you in developing an estate plan that best suits your family’s needs. Contact our North Palm Beach office today at 561-721-0600 or online to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.