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Should your child consider estate planning on the way to college?

As your child goes to college, you're probably thinking about many different ways that you can provide for him or her, even though you won't be living under the same roof. Since students could be many miles away and relatively independent for the first time, it's also important to consider legal documents that may be needed. In this way, estate planning can be useful even for those who are just 18 years old.

First off, experts suggest that students consider a healthcare power of attorney. This way, if something happens and the student is ill or injured, someone can make official decisions about what medical services are provided.

In the same way, it can be helpful for students to sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability release. Medical care providers have to be very careful about giving out any personal information under the guidance of HIPAA, but the release can make information easier to get when needed.

Finally, students may want to set up a legal power of attorney, governing decisions about finances and legal matters. This could include paying bills and tuition, handling bank accounts and investments, or even starting lawsuits.

The important thing to remember is that you may have always been allowed to make these decisions for your child in the past. Now that the child is 18, though, he or she is an adult in the eyes of the law. These documents can make it easier for you to continue making important decisions if your child cannot.

As you can see, this process is in many ways similar to standard estate planning in New York, so it's important to know what legal steps may be beneficial to take before your child leaves for college.

Source: KCCI, "Estate planning for college students … really?," Justin A. Meyer, accessed Feb. 12, 2016

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