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Estate planning for college students

Most college students in Ohio might assume that they do not need an estate plan. If they are typical college-age students leading typical college lifestyles, with no dependents and significant support from their parents, they may think that estate planning is superfluous in their case. However, there are a few documents every college student and their parents should have in place in case of emergencies.

HIPAA authorization

Many parents and students may not realize that even if the student remains financially dependent on their parents and on their parents’ health care plan, this does not necessarily give the parents the right to health care information about their child. Once a person becomes 18, they are in charge of their own health care decision-making. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prohibits sharing information, but parents and their children can prepare a HIPAA authorization document that allows this information sharing. Estate planning can help ensure that a young adult’s wishes are respected and reduce the amount of stress that a family might undergo at a difficult time.

Powers of attorney

Parents and their college-age children might also want powers of attorney for health care and finances. These authorize the parents to handle the child’s medical and financial issues if the child is incapacitated. These vary from state to state, so if the child goes to college out of state, parents may need to decide whether it would be best to prepare documents that are valid in that other state.

If a young unmarried person without children dies without a will in Ohio, the parents inherit any of the child’s assets. In the case of a college student, this might simply amount to a checking or savings account, a vehicle and personal belongings. However, if the child has belongings that they want to go to a sibling, close friend or another family member, even if it only has sentimental value, they may want to create a simple will to help ensure that this happens.