Basic Estate Planning and Other Practical Advice As Your Child Heads Off to College

June 17, 2019

Despite scientific research suggesting otherwise, an 18-year-old college student is generally considered an adult under New York law. Parents’ rights to make decisions for their child change suddenly when he/she turns age 18. Parents no longer have complete access to their child’s financial, education and health records, even if they’re still paying the bills. Since it may be important for parents to make vital financial and/or health decisions for their child, it’s important to establish the parents’ legal ability to do so ahead of time. Therefore, a child heading off to college should have a health care proxy and a power of attorney in place once he/she turns age 18. In certain circumstances, the preparation of a Will should also be considered.

Young adults should sign a health care proxy appointing a parent or another trusted adult to make medical decisions for them, if necessary. A health care proxy should include HIPPA language, enabling the doctor to disclose medical information to the parent.

Young adults should also sign a durable power of attorney, appointing a parent or parents or another trusted adult to act as agent for him or her in a variety of legal and financial matters. For example, if the child is spending a semester abroad, the parent would be able to wire money from the child’s account or sign important legal documents (such as a lease) in his or her absence.

Reprinted with permission from Lloyd Harbor Life, June 2019. 

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