If tomorrow your college student was involved in an unforeseen emergency, do you have the correct legal documents in place which would allow you to communicate with doctors or financial institutions on his or her behalf?
For many parents, “estate planning” is not a term which seems to apply to their young, vibrant teen. We tend to envision older couples meeting with their lawyer to create wills and trusts which spell out their wishes after death. Rarely does it dawn on parents that young adults fall into a vulnerable age group which requires legal protection, too.
After all, once your child turns 18, you no longer have the legal right to speak on his or her behalf. This may not seem like a big deal until your darling offspring gets in a fender bender and needs to deal with insurance or needs medical records but doesn’t have time during finals week to hunt them down.
Generally speaking, if something goes terribly amiss with your college student, such as a medical emergency, you will have some recourse. If he or she becomes seriously ill or injured to the point of being incapacitated, the courts will likely appoint you as his or her guardian.
However, the process of obtaining a guardianship could take weeks—or more commonly months. When time is of the essence in a serious emergency, you won’t want to be at the mercy of the courts when fast decisions need to be made.
This is why it’s beneficial to have key legal documents in place now which will allow you to immediately get involved in your child’s affairs without having to beg doctors or petition the courts for control.
Creating Healthcare Directives and Powers Of Attorney For Your Adult Child
In order to have access to your child’s medical records (or even to chat with his or her doctors about medical issues), you will need a HIPAA authorization as well as a medical and financial power of attorney. The purpose of having this type of power should be helping your child and making things easier rather than just being nosey–and you may need to make this clear to your college student who is anxious to spread his or her wings. It may also be helpful to let your child know these documents are temporary and can be revoked at any time down the road.
The idea of having some legal say can reduce hassles in other ways, too. For example, if your child is off on Spring Break and runs into some kind of financial crisis, you could be authorized to talk to and compromise with the bank on his or her behalf. In this type of case, a financial power of attorney is especially helpful, and a wills and trusts lawyer can help you get one in place.
While no parent wants to even imagine the worst case scenario, it is good practice to have your college student set up a will. He or she can name you as the executor and speed up the probate process should a need arise. This also gives your child the ability to have some say in what becomes of his or her assets rather than leaving you to guess what should be done with favorite mementos and the assets he or she is starting to accumulate.
If you’re ready to get started creating a basic estate plan for your college student, simply give our Brandon estate planning law firm a call at (813) 438-8503 and ask to schedule a consultation