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Three vital estate planning documents for graduating seniors

Three vital estate planning documents for graduating seniors

By Elizabeth Hunt

Even though things are looking a little different for graduating seniors this year, families should still be preparing their 18-year-olds for what comes after high school. As legal adults, “kids” in this age range need to begin learning that their parents have a lot less (legal) responsibility than they used to.

While they’re still under your roof, start having conversations with your graduate about the important safeguards they should put into place before going out on their own or heading to college. An estate planning attorney can provide guidance in the following matters:

Healthcare Proxy

With you no longer their legal guardian, your child needs to decide who will manage their healthcare decisions if they’re unable to do so on their own. No one wants to think about worst case scenarios, but without a delegated healthcare proxy, the decision about who makes choices regarding your child’s medical matters may be left to the court.

HIPAA Release

On the topic of medical matters, once your child turns 18 his or her medical information will not be provided to you without consent. The HIPAA release is a medical form that designates who is allowed to receive information about an individual’s medical status when care is needed. You will face challenges in obtaining any medical updates about your adult child (including information like whether or not they have been admitted to a hospital) if you’re not named on their HIPAA release.

Power of Attorney

Similar to naming someone to manage medical issues, your child should ensure his or her financial matters are taken care of if he or she is unable to handle them, either due to mental incapacity or physical limitations. So, for example, it might make sense for you (or another trusted relative) to be named agent under your child’s power of attorney if he or she is traveling abroad for an extended period so that you can assist in managing things like financial aid, banking, and tax matters.

Your child is facing plenty of big issues at this time, but you can help by assisting in the preparation of these important documents. If you have questions, our estate planning attorneys are here to help.