Essential Estate Planning for College-Bound Students: Key Steps for Peace of Mind

Preparing for college involves not just academic and logistical planning but also some important estate planning steps to ensure your child’s financial and legal affairs are in order. While it may seem daunting, taking these steps can provide peace of mind and ensure that you and your child are prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Here’s a list of essential estate planning measures for children headed off to college:

  1. Power of Attorney (POA):

Durable Power of Attorney: This legal document allows you to make financial decisions on behalf of your child if they become incapacitated. It can cover a range of financial matters, including managing bank accounts, paying bills, filing taxes, and handling real estate transactions.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: This allows you to make medical decisions for your child if they are unable to do so themselves. It ensures that you can communicate with healthcare providers and make decisions about treatments, medications, and surgeries.

  1. HIPAA Authorization:

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of medical information. A HIPAA authorization form allows healthcare providers to share your child’s medical information with you. Without this, you may not be able to receive updates or make informed decisions about their care in an emergency.

  1. Living Will:

A living will outlines your child’s wishes regarding life-sustaining medical treatments if they are unable to communicate their decisions. This can include preferences for resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, and organ donation.

  1. FERPA Release:

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), colleges cannot share a student’s educational records with parents without consent. A FERPA release form allows you to access your child’s grades, academic progress, and disciplinary records, which can be important for staying informed about their academic journey.

  1. Financial Accounts:

Joint Bank Account: Having a joint bank account with your child can simplify managing their finances, allowing you to deposit funds, pay bills, and monitor spending.

Authorized User on Credit Card: Adding your child as an authorized user on your credit card can help them build credit history while providing a safety net for emergencies.

  1. Trusts:

If your child has or will receive significant assets, a trust can provide structured financial management and protection. A revocable living trust allows you to manage the assets during your lifetime and seamlessly transfer them to your child upon your death, potentially avoiding probate.

  1. Review Beneficiary Designations:

Ensure that beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial instruments are current and correctly reflect your wishes. This helps avoid confusion and ensures assets are distributed according to your plans.

  1. Insurance:

Health Insurance: Verify that your child is covered under your health insurance plan or consider a student health insurance plan offered by the college. Check the network of doctors and hospitals near the college.

Renter’s Insurance: If your child will be living off-campus, renter’s insurance can protect their belongings against theft, fire, and other risks. It also provides liability coverage if someone is injured in their rental property.

  1. Emergency Information:

Create a list of emergency contacts, including family members, close friends, and healthcare providers. Include your child’s medical history, allergies, medications, and important documents like their birth certificate, social security card, and health insurance card.

  1. Communication:

Have an open discussion with your child about the importance of these documents and their implications. Ensure they know where the documents are kept and who to contact in case of an emergency.

Ensure your college-bound child’s future and your peace of mind by getting their estate planning in order. Contact Wills, Trusts, Probate & Elder Law Firm, PLLC for personalized guidance tailored to your unique needs. Call our office at 941-914-9145 or submit an inquiry through our contact form and we will be in touch to schedule an appointment.