College is an exciting time for young adults. It’s one of their first major steps towards adulthood and with it comes adult responsibilities. To make the transition easier, parents should sit down with their college kids and come up with an estate plan. This will ease any parental concerns and let the student live their college life to the fullest!
As college students around the country settle into their spring semesters, the last thing on their minds is how their minds is creating an estate plan or will – spring break is a stretch. Estate planning is uncharted territory for most college students. As a child, these are all duties parents automatically assume, but depending on a number of factors such as family dynamics, this could have disastrous consequences.. In New York, the age of majority is set at 18. This means anyone 18 and over has the legal right to make decisions regarding privacy, health/medical concerns, and finances without parental consent.
With than in mind, it is crucial for college students to devise some sort of plan that dictates where any assets will go, who is allowed to make medical decisions for them, and who has control/input over their private affairs. There are several things young students should consider including a living will/HIPPA, educational privacy agreements, and financial power of attorney. Deciding on some of these key things early in life will make the future much less complicated and is a good step towards having a successful adulthood.
Creating a Living Will
You are never too young to dictate what you want to happen when your dying. As a college student, death is most likely the farthest thing on your mind, but with the leading cause of death for people ages 15-24 being unintentional injury, it could happen. The sole purpose of having a living will is to legally document what types of life-saving and/or life-prolonging procedures you want administered if you are incapacitated. Some people may want every measure possible to be taken to save their life, while others want to keep it simple and pain free. These decisions are very intimate and personal, so it is important to strongly consider all your options and then get it written in stone.
One of the first documents college students are required to sign is known as the HIPPA Authorization, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act document. By signing this, you are dictating the amount of privacy you receive as a patient. HIPPA prevents doctors from consulting your parents about any medical conditions, treatment, and care unless specified in the contract.
By creating a living will and drafting a HIPPA document, you are ensuring that your medical treatment falls in line with your wishes and as a legal adult it is your right to choose.
Do you need educational privacy?
As a college student, academics should be one of your top priorities. The material is harder, the studying is much more intensive, and it costs money that one way or another you have to pay back. Part of this new level of education includes the right to educational privacy via the FERPA doctrine. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents are prevented from receiving any information about students from academic institutions, including grades, academic status, and health care. Taking this step may seem small, but it can be the first taste of true freedom. Signing it can bring forth a whole new level of responsibility.
The Financial Power of Attorney
Just like drafting a living will, selecting a financial power of attorney is a crucial step in one’s adult life. As you start taking on more responsibility – getting a job, paying your own bills, taking over car insurance – wealth gradually starts to accumulate. Having an official document outlining who is responsible for any financial obligations if you become incapacitated is wise. Most often, college students appoint their parents as the financial power of attorney, but this person can be anyone you trust and know has the income to support you if required. Just like when signing a lease or taking out a loan, having a cosigner can maximize your chances of success. Having a financial power of attorney acts as a safety net if for any reason you can’t pay your expenses. In the event you become incapacitated, these expenses still accumulate until officially stopped, so it’s critical to have someone who can take care of these things until otherwise stated. Taking this step provides you with financial security in a very delicate part of your journey towards adulthood.
Among other things, a financial power of attorney can:
- Pay Bills
- Pay Taxes
- Transfer/Sell Assets
- Pay Medical Expenses
As a college student, you have your entire life in front of you. The world is your oyster and you get to design the future you want for yourself. The decisions you make in college can impact the rest of your life, both in positive and negative ways. Life is already jam-packed with stress from school and work, making it very easy to ignore the little things and disregard the future. All these newfound adult responsibilities can be overwhelming, but having certain statutes in place can make things much easier. Before getting anything in writing, it is advisable to take some time to discuss these matters with a trusted individual such as a parent, legal guardian, or close friend. They can offer valuable insight and point you in the right direction as to where to start.