University Preparation: Estate planning for the college bound

Posted by Gregory Singleton | Mar 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Congratulations, your kid is college bound! Now for the scary part: They're on their own. Legally. Once a child turns 18 (the age of majority in Minnesota), you may not be able to remain involved in the medical and financial affairs of your child, even if you and your child want it so.

While at this stage, your young adult may not need a revocable living trust. They may not have substantial assets to care for in a will (though they should have one). But, as stated in Kiplinger's article, Documents that Parents and College Students Need, there are four documents that are essential if you want to stay involved in your child's life.

The Four Documents

  1. HIPAA Authorization Form: HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a federal law that puts up road blocks to accessing medical information and records. While it protects the individual's privacy, it can be a headache if you need access to your child's care. Your child will need to sign a HIPPA authorization form. This will allow you to access those records and get information from health care providers. If your child wants, restrictions can be set making only part of the record available.

  2. Medical Power of Attorney: This power of attorney will allow your child to authorize someone to make medical decisions for them. It will be effective if they are rendered unable to make decisions for themselves. This does not allow you to make every day decisions about their care, or even non-every day decisions. But if they are incapacitated, they will need someone trusted to make medical decisions for them. I would add to Kiplinger's list a full Living Will. It can be put on file with the college health clinic as well.

  3. Financial Power of Attorney: This document will allow the authorized individual to make financial and certain legal decisions on your child's behalf. The Financial Power of Attorney can also be drafted to be effective immediately, and not contingent upon your child becoming incapacitated. This would be if your child wants you to handle their financial affairs while they are away.

  4. Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver: You may have been able to see your child's grades all through grades K-12. But once your child is an adult, this right is gone unless you have their explicit permission. As Kiplinger notes, it may seem counter intuitive that you can send your child off to college, pay their tuition, and not be able to see their grades, but that's how it works. This waiver will allow you to have access to your child's academic records, if needed.


Estate planning needs to start early. As soon as your child is an adult and moves out of the house or is college bound, they're on their own unless you do some planning. If you or your child is ready to leave home and head to college, contact Signature Law for to discuss the College Bound estate planning package and see if it is right for you.

About the Author

Gregory Singleton

Trusted Legal Advisor Gregory Singleton is a skilled attorney, experienced in both litigation and transactional work. He has tried multi-million-dollar cases and has negotiated multi-billion dollar contracts. With Signature Law, his goal is to make the law accessible to you, your families, and y...


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