It’s May, the school year is coming to an end, and millions of Seniors are turning their attention toward getting ready for college. A lot goes into shipping out to a new city or town to explore fresh educational horizons. You’ve got to pack up your life, say goodbye to friends, find housing, register for classes, figure out where to order late-night burritos, and mentally prepare to take your first big step into adulthood.
Estate planning isn’t on many Seniors’ to-do lists, but it should be. Every adult—from graduating Seniors to senior citizens—needs to have basic estate planning documents in place. As soon as you reach age of majority (18 in most states), you gain full responsibility for your healthcare and finances. This means loved ones can’t come to the rescue without your explicit permission should anything ever happen. And it means all you own could end up distributed by the court, rather than according to your wishes, should you unexpectedly pass.
The College Student Estate Planning Checklist
1. Advance Directive for Healthcare
Sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy, your Advance Directive for Healthcare allows you to designate a loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf should you suffer illness or injury. If you get doored while cycling to class one day and end up in a coma, your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or whoever will need this sort of authorization to speak with medical professionals on your behalf, and it contains a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization to provide access to your medical records. It also expresses your end-of-life choices. If you ever need a guardian, it lets the court know who you would choose.
2. Financial Power of Attorney
Financial power of attorney is similar to the above but concerns—you guessed it—your finances, not your health. As an adult, if you want someone to be able to pay your bills, handle tuition-related matters, and ensure your rent is covered, you can give that authority by executing a financial power of attorney. This would also give them the power to bring a lawsuit against the person who doored you while cycling to class!
3. FERPA Authorization
FERPA stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” this federal law affords parents the right to have access to their children’s educational records. As an adult, your privacy is protected. You must sign a FERPA authorization to give parents access to your educational records. Most postsecondary institutions have a form of their own for you to sign or your attorney can prepare one for you. Most parents paying for their child’s education want to know that their money is being well spent.
4. A Basic Will
As a college student, you may not own much, and a basic will may not be necessary at this time. After all, you’re still in the training stage of life. As you begin to accumulate assets in your own name, this will become a necessity. A basic will is where you dictate who will get what when you die. Yes, writing your will pairs awkwardly with starting your adult life, and yet it’s precisely the sort of responsible thing an adult does.
To learn more about the importance of making estate planning a part of getting ready for college, do not hesitate to reach out to the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia today.