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Textbooks, a Micro-Fridge and…Powers of Attorney: Estate Planning Before Heading off to College


All adults should strongly consider creating Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property.  Young adults are no exception.  While parents find it easy to communicate with physicians, health care providers and educators for their minor children, when a child turns 18 things change.  At 18, minors become adults in the eyes of the law.  Privacy laws kick in full force.

Carol R. Kaufman, Founder/CEO of Carebinders, LLC, writes for Forbes:

“Do you realize that, if you don’t have that set of documents, you, technically, may have no legal authority to get any medical information about your adult children or to make any decisions regarding their health, if they become ill, incapacitated or worse?”

One of the most important aspects of a current Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care is the HIPAA Release that is built into the current statutory form.  Without such a release, privacy laws may prevent parents from communicating and receiving information from the physician treating their college teen who’s just been in an accident.  Scary thought.

Similarly, parents have no authority over their 18-year-old child’s finances or property transactions.  While a college student might not have a lot in the way of assets, what about their digital and social media accounts?  Can a parent access or disable in the event of disability?  A Power of Attorney for Property with appropriate added provisions might help.  There can also be the issue of communicating with student loan providers or the educational institution itself.

In addition to Powers of Attorney, young adults should have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) wallet card listing emergency contacts, health insurance and known allergies.

Signing Powers of Attorney is not going to be as exciting for your college-bound child as buying the right laptop or microwave, but it can provide valuable peace of mind and the necessary authority for parents to advocate for their young adult children in case of emergency.