It can be exciting when your child begins their college career. It is a new chapter in both your lives and a chance for your child to strike out on their own.
However, are college students truly prepared?
What happens if students fall sick, or face a serious accident? Can they rely on their parents to help? In California, most college freshmen are eighteen years old and considered a legal adult. This can actually prevent parents from helping their children in serious circumstances – unless they have the right planning tools in place. This is especially important in light of the current global health crisis from COVID-19.
So, what can families do to prepare?
1. Have students establish an advance healthcare directive
When children turn eighteen, parents will likely need explicit permission to be legally involved in several matters in the adult child’s life – including in the event of medical issues and emergencies.
For example, with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in effect, parents might not be able to:
- Get information about their adult child’s medical issues;
- Ensure their adult child gets the care they need; and
- Make decisions on behalf of their adult child if they are unable to do so for themself.
However, you and your children can prevent this undue stress by discussing with your college students the need to create an advance healthcare directive. This allows students to make their wishes clear and authorize their parents or another trusted person to act in a medical emergency.
2. Create a durable power of attorney
In addition to an advance healthcare directive, your college-age children should also establish a durable power of attorney for finances to help in the event of an emergency. With a durable financial power of attorney, students can name their parents as an agent to:
- Manage their property and finances;
- Pay their bills or other expenses; and
- Use assets on their behalf.
Thinking about scenarios of unforeseen illness or accidents is the last thing you or your student want to do before sending them off to college. However, families must be prepared.
Although they are an adult, they are still your children, and you want to be there to help and support them, especially in this new chapter of their lives. These two estate planning tools can help ensure that.