Why College Students Should Have an Estate Plan

In the eyes of the law, college students over the age of 17 are now adults. This means that they need to have their own estate planning documents. The Wall Street Journal reports that once individuals reach 18, their parents are no longer permitted to see their medical and financial records and make decisions on their behalf. Young adults need to create an estate plan that appoints trusted individuals to make medical and financial decisions in the event that they are unable to do so.

Many teenagers and young adults don't consider creating an estate plan because they may not have much money or property to account for. Yet other medical documents are essential for all individuals over the age of 18. In most states, parents lose the right to make medical decisions for their children even if they are paying for the child's college.

In recent months, parents have felt the impact of this shocking discovery. Two college aged boys were hit by a car and were unconscious in the hospital when their parents rushed to the medical center. The physicians would not give the parents even the most basic information about the two unconscious men. When they both awoke, they were then able to give the parents' permission to review their medical information.

In another case, an adult daughter was involved in a car accident and taken to the hospital in a coma. This particular victim was unconscious for a long amount of time, and her parents were not given any information about their daughter. Finally, the mother had to sue to become the girl's temporary legal guardian which cost her thousands of dollars in legal proceedings.

Not every 18-year-old needs a will, but every 18-year-old should appoint a trust friend or relative to serve as a health-care proxy. A person appointed in this document will have the ability to make decisions regarding the subject's medical care should the individual become incapacitated. Young adults should also get a release from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 which protects patients and their privacy.

This gives medical practitioners permission to share information with those that are named on the form so that they are not left in the dark when it comes to cases of this nature. Young adults should also designate a financial power of attorney in their case. This is a document which will allow an appointee, typically a parent, to access a child's financial accounts at any time. A "springing" power attorney allows the same privilege to an appointee but only if the individual that owns the accounts is declared incompetent.

A financial power of attorney will permit a parent to pay a child's bills and speak to his or her landlord or replace a lost credit or debit card if the child is incapacitated or simply away at college and unable to get these things done on his or her own. Most of the time these documents need to be updated every couple of years or financial institutions won't accept them.

If you want more information about creating all of these documents, then you will want to discuss your case with an estate planning professional. Using probate.com, you may be able to designate a professional who can help you to work through any confusion that you have regarding these different legal documents and what they allow. If you are a college-aged adult looking for assistance with your financial welfare and your medical laws then you need to talk to an attorney right away. Don't hesitate to contact a lawyer today!