College students should prioritize their estate planning.
Attending university is often the first time young adults are away from their families for longer than a few weeks.
They must learn to juggle all aspects of their lives like homework, laundry, and meal planning.
As college students practice their independence, it is helpful to have a safety net of support from their parents.
According to a recent WDIO article titled “Estate planning is for college students too,” the best way to provide support is through estate planning.
What estate planning documents are vital for college students?
Power of Attorney.
When minors are growing up, they rely on their parents to support them in times of crisis.
Although college students are legal adults, they often still need their parents.
If the student becomes incapacitated, having a power of attorney is essential.
Otherwise, I have as much authority to step in and help out as do the parents.
A financial power of attorney is important for allowing parents to manage finances and make decisions on behalf of their student during incapacity.
A medical power of attorney allows the student to designate a healthcare agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the student.
Including HIPAA language is helpful in allowing the medical provider to release information to the agent.
It may be helpful to have these two fundamental documents created both by an attorney admitted to practice in the state where the student is in school and by an attorney admitted to practice in the state where the student is a resident (i.e., driver’s license, registered to vote, etc.).
Regardless, once executed, copies of these documents should be shared widely with all stakeholders in the life of your student, to include appointed agents, financial institutions, bursar’s office at school, physician’s, and even the university “voo doo clinic” (i.e., the student health clinic).
Note: If your student is seeking or has established “in-state residency” where he or she is in school, then your student may want to update these legal documents to reflect any changes in “legal residency status” for consistency purposes.
Last Will and Testament.
Although college students are often broke because their money is paying for school, food, and housing, they often own other stuff.
This can include a car or other valuable items.
When creating a last will and testament, it is often wise for the executor to be the parents.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) plays a significant role in protecting records.
Without a FERPA waiver, the college will not be able to provide information to the parents if the student is over age 18.
Having a FERPA waiver allows the parents to call and request essential information, such as student loan information or a transcript.
As noted above, before medical information can be provided to others, a HIPAA waiver is necessary.
This written waiver is essential if medical facilities, physicians, schools, or other professionals have health information the student wants released to a specific individual.
Although college students may not want to execute these legal documents while on break from school, taking the time to work with an experienced estate planning attorney can help simplify their lives (and your life) while they are away at university.
A crisis prevented is a crisis avoided.
Reference: WDIO (Sep. 28, 2022) “Estate planning is for college students too”