Important Estate Planning Documents for Students Heading Off to College

As the heat of summer subsides, parents of college-aged students are tasked with preparing their children for the journey back, or for their first journey, off to college.  A crucial step in this preparation is ensuring that university bound children have the right legal documents in place for their parents to assist them even while they’re away at school.  Because most college students are 18, or will turn 18 soon after starting college, their attaining the age of majority can present unexpected problems for parents, including blocked or restricted access to financial and medical information, if the proper documents are not in place.

Students and their parents are strongly recommended to have two documents, in particular, prepared for the student before he or she heads off to college: (1) a financial power of attorney; and (2) a health care power of attorney/living will.  Through the financial power of attorney, the student can grant their parents or guardians the power to handle any necessary financial or business needs that may arise while they are away from home.  In some instances, the financial power of attorney may also be useful for the payment of tuition and other expenses.  Keep in mind, however, that most schools will also have online portals whereby students will need to provide access to parents, or other authorized individuals, to get information such as tuition bills, grades, and housing notices.

More importantly, by way of the health care power of attorney/living will, the student can grant their parents the power to obtain their medical information, speak with their doctors and other care providers, and to assist with their care in the unfortunate event that a medical emergency transpires while the student is on campus.  A HIPAA authorization form may also be useful for students who are away at college, who may be in closer proximity to other relatives who are not their parents.  Through the HIPAA authorization, the student can allow another person they trust, and who will be nearby, to have access to their medical information in the event they are hospitalized.  This authorization can allow the trusted person to communicate with the student’s parents when the student is unable to do so.

All of these documents are designed to assist students by allowing their parents to be able to assist should such a need arise.  As students are encouraged to spread their wings and take off on their own, of course every parent would love to provide them with a safety net.

If you have questions about this topic, please contact the estate planning attorneys at Timoney Knox, at either our Fort Washington office or Main Line office located in Wayne. Click here to learn more.

Published Aug 15, 2022

About The Author(s):

chloe mullen wilson

Chloe Mullen-Wilson

Chloe Mullen-Wilson joined the firm in 2022 as an Associate Attorney in the Wills, Trusts and Estates Department and focuses her practice on Orphans’ Court litigation, estate and trust administration, guardianships, special needs trusts, real estate and corporate matters.

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