August is on the horizon and with it, the time of year that students nationwide are preparing to ship off to college. The moment is at once exciting and stressful. New possibilities collide with new responsibilities. You need to find a place to live, register in classes, build a schedule, compile a list of all events serving free pizza, and, yes, this is true, ensure certain estate planning documents are in order.
Estate planning may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about all that’s involved with shipping off to college, but it is crucially important. As soon as you reach the age of majority in your state, your parents lose the ability to intervene in your medical or financial affairs. For those anxious to fly the nest, this may sound exciting, and yet gaining exclusive control over your well-being implies big responsibility.
Four Estate Planning Documents Every Adult Needs
Exclusive control over your well-being is another way of saying the only person able to take of you is you. As thrilling as this new independence may be, it is also risky. You won’t always be able to take care of yourself, after all. What happens if you suffer incapacitating injury, for instance? Who will pay your bills while you recover? Who will make medical decisions on your behalf? Who will inform your professors of your absence and make any registration changes necessary to protect your career? The only way to answer these vital questions is to have the following four estate planning documents in place.
1. Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Executing a durable financial power of attorney means appointing a trusted loved one to manage your financial affairs when you’re not able to do so. In signing this document, you articulate the sorts of permissions you wish to grant. This means not only taking a global look at your finances but building a plan that accounts for their maintenance.
2. Medical Power of Attorney
Sometimes referred to as a healthcare power of attorney or healthcare proxy, this document works much like the above. Signing a medical power of attorney means designating a trusted loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf should you suffer incapacitation.
3. HIPAA Authorization
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. This legislation protects your individual medical record and, in some states, your academic record, too. When you grant HIPAA authorization, you give a loved one (or ones) the power to access information related to these subjects.
4. A Will
Every adult needs to have a Will. Whether you own a lot or a little, you want to retain control over where it ends up when you’re gone. Not only is this a matter of protecting your life’s work, but one of protecting your family. Your possessions carry sentimental as much as monetary value and ensuring that they end up with those you love (and who love you) is an act of caring. While your present Will may be short, it is a document that will grow as you do.
To learn more about ensuring you are protected as you go off to college or to address any other matter related to estate planning, do not hesitate to contact the Polaris Law Group either by calling 636-757-3850 or using the contact form on our webpage.