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Estate Planning for Kids Heading Off to College Thumbnail

Estate Planning for Kids Heading Off to College

Estate planning for kids heading off to college is an essential but often overlooked aspect of parenting. As your child steps into adulthood, it's crucial to have certain legal documents in place to ensure that you can assist them in case of emergencies or important decisions. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this process in a more conversational and relatable manner.

1. Healthcare Power of Attorney

Imagine your child is away at college and faces a medical emergency. Without a healthcare power of attorney, you might struggle to get information or make decisions on their behalf. This document allows you to step in and make medical decisions if your child is unable to do so.

How to Get Started:

  • Sit down with your child and discuss the importance of having someone they trust to make medical decisions.
  • Contact an attorney to draft the document, ensuring it meets state requirements.
  • Ensure your child signs the document in front of a notary public.
  • Keep copies handy and provide one to the college's health center.

2. Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to manage your child's financial affairs, like handling bank accounts or paying bills, if they can't do it themselves.

Steps to Take:

  • Have an open discussion with your child about their financial management and who they trust.
  • Get help from an attorney to create the document.
  • Make sure it’s signed and notarized.
  • Store copies safely and inform relevant financial institutions if needed.

3. HIPAA Authorization

HIPAA regulations protect your child's medical privacy. A HIPAA authorization form is essential for you to access their medical information if necessary.

Creating a HIPAA Authorization:

  • Obtain the form from a healthcare provider or legal professional.
  • Your child needs to sign it, indicating what information can be shared and with whom.
  • Ensure the form is filed with all relevant healthcare providers.

4. FERPA Waiver

Under FERPA, your child's educational records are private. A FERPA waiver allows you to access these records and communicate with the college if necessary.

Setting Up a FERPA Waiver:

  • Get the waiver form from your child’s college.
  • Have your child complete and sign it.
  • Submit it to the college’s registrar office.

5. Living Will

A living will outlines your child's wishes regarding medical treatment in situations where they can’t communicate their preferences.

Drafting a Living Will:

  • Discuss end-of-life care preferences with your child.
  • Consult with an attorney to draft the document.
  • Ensure it’s signed, witnessed, and notarized.
  • Distribute copies to healthcare providers and keep one for your records.

6. Regular Reviews

Life is full of changes, and so should be your documents. Regularly reviewing and updating these documents ensures they remain relevant and effective.

Keeping Documents Current:

  • Schedule annual reviews of all documents.
  • Update them after major life events, like moving to a new state, change in marital status or changes in health.
  • Consult your attorney to make necessary updates.


By taking these steps before your child goes off to college, you can bring a sense of security for both you and your child. While it may seem daunting, having these conversations and documents prepared ensures you're both ready to handle any situation that may arise. Remember, it’s about being prepared and making sure you can be there for your child when they need you the most.  Please reach out to me if you have any questions – I’m here to help make this transition as smooth as possible for you and your family.