It’s mid-July, and in any other year, this would be that exciting time as rising college freshmen prepare to go to college. Stores would be full of dorm room décor and organizational tools, college towns would be gearing up for an influx of new residents, and parents and their high school grads would be thinking about emptying nests and new adventures. Of course, this year, things are different. Maybe that new college freshman is not going away to school but will take all classes online. Maybe the nest isn’t emptying out. Maybe school has even been put on hold for a year, hoping for a more traditional experience next fall. But one thing hasn’t changed: when that high school senior or rising college freshman turned 18, she became an adult. And with adulthood comes new issues related to estate planning. That’s why McCreary Law Office offers a special package just for your young adult children just for these circumstances.
My freshman year at Texas A&M, I took a tumble on Mt. Aggie in my snow skiing P.E. course. (Yes, I took snow skiing as a P.E. course at my university in central Texas. Yes, I fell. (And yes, surgery followed that winter break.)) An ambulance arrived and transported me to the campus clinic, and we proceeded with treatment. But neither my mother nor my father were notified by the campus clinic; their consent was irrelevant. I was 18 years old, after all.
What if it had been worse? What if instead of a knee injury, I’d suffered a head injury? Who would have made my medical decisions? My mother? My father? It is true that when no formal plan is in place, a parent is often the default decision-maker under state law for a young adult in the case of incapacity. But my parents were not married to each other. What if they disagreed? Once I turned 18, they had the same standing legally if we relied merely on the default rules under state law. Without a plan in place identifying which parent had the final say, this could create needless strife among the people I loved most.
Beyond making medical decisions, what about just being able to get access to information? Your right to access information as a parent essentially disappears with that 18th birthday. And in this day of privacy releases, doctors and hospitals are supposed to protect our privacy and not give out our medical information without written authorization. But if your young adult child is in a car accident, would she want you to be able to find out what has happened and how she is? A stand-alone HIPAA release can allow your young adult child to grant that access in advance.
Information access applies to education records too. Perhaps your young adult child is fortunate enough for you to be paying tuition. But writing that check does not mean you get access to grades. As part of McCreary Law Office’s young adult planning package, the office will guide your child on those federal rules and how to grant that access.
Whether your young adult is going away to school or staying home, it’s a busy time filled with a lot of things to do. To be fully prepared, though, your young adult should add some basic ancillary estate planning to her to-do list. And McCreary Law Office has created a special plan just for young adults as they transition from living at home to independence:
In addition to the above, the office adds FERPA guidance and enrolls the client in Legal Directives for electronic storage of the medical information and consents.
Of course, this is not just for young adults in college. Everyone should have these key pieces of planning in place. I see it as so important that if you are a current of former client, for the next two months, though the end of August 2020, I’ll take ten percent off the cost of your young adult’s plan for those children age 25 and younger.
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