As the proud mother of a college-bound son, I have been laser-focused on preparing for his upcoming journey. While I couldn't be happier for my son, I am also concerned about his overall welfare since for the first time in his life, he will have to maneuver through making decisions without day to day parental involvement. I know he is mature with “good” home training and is ready; however, as I prepare to purchase dorm room items and academic supplies, I am reminded that I also need to prepare for him legally. What do I mean by that you may ask? Well, because my son is now 18, he is an adult and as such, I am no longer legally privy to his health information as that would be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Additionally, I am no longer privy to any of his financial information solely in his name, even those where I was previously listed as the custodian. These issues can be addressed with two very key and standard estate planning documents, (1) an Advance Directive for Healthcare and (2) a Durable Power of Attorney. These documents are extremely helpful in the event the person who owns the document (the principal) is unable to act and someone else (the agent) must act for them. In the case at hand, the principal would be the college student and the agent(s) could be the parent(s). Imagine a scenario where your now adult child gets sick while on or off campus. Without the Advance Directive in place naming you as agent, you will have a difficult time trying to facilitate care for your child and this is avoidable with proper planning. Being proactive now can save time and frustration in the future. Take the time to consult with an Estate Planning attorney today and make sure you have your legal documentation in order.
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