Even college students should have an estate plan

Massachusetts is one of the most popular states in the U.S. for higher education. There are many schools and universities that attract people from inside and outside the state. With that, there will be various considerations that these students should think about for the present and future.

One that is frequently perceived as a topic to worry about later is an estate plan. While this is generally viewed as imperative when a person has a family, owns a business, has significant assets or is older, there are important reasons for a college student to move forward with estate planning with help from an experienced law firm.

An estate plan is not just to divide assets and name beneficiaries when a person dies. There are aspects of the document that shield people from the unknown if they become ill or incapacitated.

For instance, because college students will generally be 18 or older and have reached legal adulthood, they are responsible for their health decisions. If there is a catastrophic event and parents are tasked with making decisions, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) will prevent them from being given personal information for their child. This is even an issue if the child remains on the parents' medical insurance. With an estate plan, there are ways to address this.

The child can sign a HIPAA authorization that lets the information be disclosed to another person. There is a power of attorney for medical and healthcare in which another individual can be designated as the agent if the testator is incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves. A durable power of attorney grants another individual the legal right to make a variety of decisions, healthcare, financial and more, if the testator cannot do it on his or her own.

People will generally forget about these issues if they are younger and in seemingly good health. However, this is a mistake that can cause major problems if something unfortunate occurs and the college student is unable to make decisions with a need for someone to stand in for them. To avoid complications when going to college, it is wise to be fully prepared with comprehensive estate planning documents.

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