Most Oregon residents may associate estate planning with age and wealth—only elderly individuals with substantial wealth need to create estate planning documents. But this is far from the truth. Estate planning documents encompass more than just a will and any person with any belonging they would like a loved one to have, regardless of its value, should have their affairs in order. In fact, as teens head off to college, their parents should start thinking about making a few estate planning documents for them.
Estate planning includes provisions for situations when someone is still alive but unable to take care of themselves. While it is difficult to think of one’s college age child incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves, the reality is that no one knows what is in store for them. Having a plan in place can keep parents participate in their adult children’s healthcare decisions. Otherwise, HIPAA regulations prevent parents from accessing their children’s medical records or healthcare decisions. Some important documents college going kids should have in place are:
- HIPAA authorization: this document will allow a third party to access someone’s health information and use it.
- Healthcare/medical power of attorney: this document allows an individual to appoint a third person to act as their agent in case they can not make healthcare decisions related to themselves.
- Durable power of attorney: this document authorizes someone else to make financial and healthcare related decisions and also sign on legal documents for them if they cannot do it themselves.
It can be frightening to imagine a situation when a child is so injured that he or she needs someone else to make important decisions on their behalf. In a perfect world, such a situation will not arise. However, taking a few hours to create a plan can alleviate a lot of stress down the road. An experienced attorney can work with families to ensure they cover every situation and understand what each document means.