July 24, 2019
Does Your Michigan College Student Need an Estate Plan?
The simple answer to this question is, “Yes, your college student needs an estate plan.” However, most college students do not need a comprehensive estate plan. A few key estate planning documents are sufficient to protect college students while they are obtaining their degrees and beginning their careers. There could be a few instances in which a college student may need a more detailed estate plan. An experienced Michigan estate planning attorney can quickly assess your child’s needs and develop an estate plan that protects your child as he or she heads off to college.
What Estate Planning Documents Does My College-Aged Child Need?
Once your child reaches 18 years of age, he or she is considered an adult under the law. If your child were to pass away, his or her estate would be controlled by Michigan’s intestate laws in the absence of a will or other estate plan. Therefore, it is important that you help your child develop an estate plan before he or she leaves for college in the event the unthinkable occurs.
Basic estate planning documents college-aged individuals need include:
- Last Will and Testament
A basic will is typically sufficient to meet the needs of a college student. A college student may own very little, but it is still important that he or she has a will. Without a will, the state controls who inherits a person’s property, including college students who may still live with their parents and receive their support from their parents.
- HIPAA Authorization
Even though your college student may live at home and be your dependent, once he or she turns 18 years of age, you are not entitled to receive medical information about your child. A HIPAA Authorization grants you the authority to receive medical information and discuss that information with your child’s medical providers. Think of it as a “permission slip” for doctors to release information to you about your adult child. If your child is hesitant about allowing access to all information, the release can be drafted to restrict information for certain matters, such as pregnancy, drug use, and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney gives an appointed agent the authority to make medical decisions if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. If a child becomes incapacitated or cannot make medical decisions for any reason, parents are typically permitted to make those decisions as the next of kin. However, a Medical Power of Attorney can make it easier for parents to make medical decisions in the event of an emergency.
In addition, you may also want to encourage your college-aged child to consider a Living Will or Advance Health Care Directive. By using one of these forms, your child can control important decisions regarding life-prolonging medical treatments and end-of-life care even if he or she is unable to make those decisions known because of a medical condition.
- Financial Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney authorizes another person to make financial decisions for you. With a Durable Power of Attorney, you can manage your college students financial accounts and other financial matters if he or she cannot do so for any reason. For example, you can deposit and withdraw money from accounts, buy and sell property in your child’s name, and open new accounts in your child’s name. A Financial Power of Attorney can make it much easier to handle financial matters for your child, especially if he or she is several hundred miles away at college for most of the year.
Does Your College Student Need a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney?
Many of the above forms can be found online. However, we encourage your college-aged child to discuss his or her situation with an estate planning lawyer. Many of the forms online are general forms that may not be sufficient for your child’s needs. Some forms may not conform with Michigan laws.
If you or your child have questions about estate planning, contact our office by calling 888-390-4360 or by using the contact form on our website to schedule an appointment with one of our Michigan estate planning attorneys.