If your child is heading off to college, does his or her college checklist include an estate plan? As you help your child pack for college, will he or she leave you with a health care power of attorney, a HIPAA authorization, a financial power of attorney and a will? If you haven't prepared these important legal documents, now might be a good time to get them in place.
In most states, an individual is considered an adult after reaching age 18. Absent the proper legal documents, parents no longer have the right to access their adult child’s financial information, medical records or even basic information about their child’s medical condition.
Even if your adult child feels he or she does not have enough property to justify a will, you should at least make sure your child completes a health care power of attorney, a HIPAA authorization and a durable financial power of attorney. By completing a health care power of attorney and HIPAA authorization, your child gives you the ability to access private medical information and make medical decisions if he or she is unable to do so. Similarly, a financial power of attorney allows you to access your child’s financial records and take care of financial matters while he or she is away at college.
If your child becomes incapacitated, wouldn’t he or she like you to be able to communicate with medical professionals in the case of a medical emergency or with financial institution representatives, even if it’s just to report a lost debit or credit card? If the answer is “yes,” you should encourage your adult child to set up an estate plan.