In the spring and summer as children graduate from high school, parents tend to understandably be in a celebratory and emotional state of mind. While focused on all the joy in the years to come, parents often overlook the fact that their child is now an adult in the eyes of the law and that requires certain documentation be put in place with respect to their child.
Estate planning on behalf of your child needs to be on your ever-growing to-do list as a responsible parent and the following are the legal documents that every young adult must have in place:
1. Healthcare Power of Attorney
Young adults between 18 and 25 are just as prone to illness and injury as the rest of us—maybe more so. Every year, roughly a quarter of a million people in this age range spend some time in the hospital. Bumps, bruises, broken bones, mental health issues and occasional alcohol poisoning can sideline college-age offspring, and it’s always wise to hope for the best while preparing for the worst. When a child turns 18, a parent’s control over his or her healthcare decisions essentially evaporates unless the child has put in place a healthcare power of attorney empowering a parent as their healthcare agent.
If a child becomes incapable of making their own medical decisions, the parents will need a healthcare power of attorney to be named as the child’s health care agents and make medical decisions on the child’s behalf.
2. HIPAA Authorization
Without a clear HIPAA authorization form (along with the health care power of attorney) parents will be unable to communicate with healthcare professionals and insurance companies if their child gets hurt, and they may not be able to access their child’s health records and treatment information. This can interfere with their ability to make the right healthcare decisions on behalf of their child.
3. Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney gives parents the ability to make financial decisions on their child’s behalf should the child be unable to do so themselves due to some incapacity event. Much like a healthcare power of attorney, this can become a serious issue if a child becomes disabled for any reason. In such an event, by having a financial power of attorney in place, a parent would still be able to pay their child’s rent and bills and access bank accounts and financial records on their child’s behalf.
4. FERPA Release
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is designed to protect a college student’s privacy, but it can also leave parents locked out of vital information in an emergency. By putting in place a properly drafted release you can obtain educational records or other forms of privileged information as needed.
5. Last Will and Testament
It’s a very difficult topic to consider during this youthful and hopeful stage of a child’s life, but if the worst should happen to a child, a Last Will and Testament allows parents to honor their child’s wishes. Something will also need to be done with the child’s social media accounts, bank accounts, and personal assets, and a Last Will and Testament can empower a parent to act on behalf of a child with respect to these matters. It can also allow the child to specify their preferred funeral arrangements and other end of life decisions so that the child’s wishes are honored.