Jun 26, 2017

Posted in Blog - "Altman Speaks"

Child heading to college

Child Heading to College? Important Estate Planning Measures

This is the time of the year when high school seniors – and their parents – receive acceptance notifications from colleges and universities and enter the last phase of the college application process. Over the next several weeks, final campus visits are scheduled, financial aid is discussed, and decisions are made. Oftentimes, parents reach this point and — along with excitement and perhaps relief that the process is over – suddenly feel very unprepared to actually send their teenager off to college. Taking a few important estate planning measures can ensure that your child’s transition to college – and adulthood – is a smooth one.

“Adult” in the eyes of the law

Once a child turns 18 years of age, they are classified as adults in the eyes of the law. Parents cannot legally make decisions on their behalf anymore, can no longer see their financial records, nor can they make medical decisions on their behalf without preparing certain documents.

HIPAA Release

HIPAA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 – protects patient privacy. Once your child turns 18 years old, they are classified as adults and are given this legal right to privacy. From this point on, you will no longer automatically have access to your child’s medical records nor will you be notified if your child has been admitted to the hospital. Your child must sign a release from HIPAA indicating that they agree that, should they need medical treatment, medical personnel may release information regarding their location and condition to those individuals specified.

Healthcare Proxy

If your child is unable to make their own medical decisions, it is important to designate a healthcare proxy. This individual should be a trusted relative or family friend who will be given responsibility for making these decisions on your child’s behalf. Your child’s doctors and the proxy should both receive copies of the form.

Political climate warrants additional precautions

Many undocumented students who are currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, are concerned about the Trump administration’s proposed immigration policy. While the terms of the proposal change on a regular basis, parents can take additional precautions such as designating a financial power of attorney who can access the child’s financial accounts and pay the child’s bills and listing additional contacts on HIPAA forms.

Estate planning to meet all your needs

Sending a child off to college can be an emotional, stressful time. Having an estate plan that addresses their financial and medical needs can help make the transition a bit easier. The skilled estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates specialize in estate planning for all life situations. For more than 40 years, our team has been dedicated to developing estate plans that address your concerns, satisfy your needs, and help you to reach your financial goals. Altman & Associates is widely recognized as the premier estate planning firm in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia area, with convenient offices in both Columbia and Rockville. Contact a member of our team today at 301-468-3220 or online to schedule a consultation.

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