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  • Amy Privette

Don't Forget to Put This on Your College-bound Teen's "To-do" List!

As you prepare to launch your child into independence and leave your baby behind in a fabulously-decorated college dorm room, please keep in mind that once children turn 18 years of age, they are an adult in the eyes of the law. As of that moment, a lot of the "magic" you possessed to help your child as their parent is lost. For example, you no longer have the authority to obtain medical information about your child. You also cannot assist your child with financial or legal matters. As your son or daughter steps into adulthood, they are now solely responsible for managing their own affairs, and the learning curve can be steep.

Some of you may be turning around right now, planning to pack up that dorm room and bring your child right back home. For the rest of you Moms and Dads who want your newly-minted adults to enjoy their independence yet still be able to be there for your child as a safety net, talk to your son or daughter about putting an estate plan in place. Yes, that's right. Your child needs an estate plan. Estate planning is not just for older people! Here's what your child's estate plan should consist of:

Durable Power of Attorney, which gives parents the legal authority to assist with financial and personal matters. If your child becomes disabled or is otherwise unable to take care of his or her own affairs, someone needs to have the power to make sure rent, car payments, and other bills are paid, taxes are paid, financial aid documents are submitted, and more.

Health Care Power of Attorney, which empowers parents to make medical and mental health care decisions if the student is incapable of making decisions for himself or herself. In addition, the student can express any thoughts he or she has about being kept on life support and even what arrangements should be made for burial or cremation in the event of death. This aspect becomes extremely important when the child's parents are divorced and may have conflicting ideas about what should be done for their child.

HIPAA Authorization, which grants parents the ability to obtain information from doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals, etc. about the health and well-being of the student. In the event of the tragic loss of a young adult, this Authorization will also make it easier for parents to get copies of their child's medical records should a wrongful death lawsuit be pursued.

Basic Will, which allows the young adult to decide who should receive their personal belongings, their car, the money they have in the bank, and anything else they own that might be of value. Without a Will, North Carolina law dictates who the heirs will be and in what shares. If the student wants to have a say, then he or she needs a Will!

These documents are needed more than ever given the fact that social media is such a large part of our lives and your child's memory collection process. You need to make sure there's a plan in place to preserve the pictures posted on the young adult’s social media accounts and that passwords and answers to security questions associated with those accounts are readily available. There are also young people making good money playing video games online or posting original YouTube content. Your child's estate plan needs to cover how to access that income, and don't forget that tax returns may be needed as well!

The good news is that we have made it easier than ever for your college-age student to get these four key documents!

With our College Core Four bundle, your son or daughter will have everything needed to allow you, Mom or Dad, to help your child find their wings and to embrace adulthood! These are tools that allow you to help your child, as you have done for your child's entire life. In an emergency, your child will want his or her parent making decisions about what's best, not the hospital and certainly not the court.

Lastly, talk to your child about signing a FERPA release, which would give you the ability to access your child's grades and other educational records.

Encourage your child to take the right steps to secure their future. Let's set them up with the College Core Four now!

Phone: (919) 678-5761

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