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Four Legal Documents All College-Aged Kids Should Have

By Leigh Barber

It’s back to school season and if your son or daughter is leaving the nest, there are four legal documents they should sign before they go. You may find it odd that your 18-year-old might need a Durable Power of Attorney or even a Living Will, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Did you know? Once your child becomes a legal adult at age 18, hospitals are not required to release medical information to the parents and financial entities may not allow access to funds. Unless your child has the proper documents in place, medical professionals can refuse to disclose important information regarding your son or daughter’s health. Here are the 4 documents your child should sign to avoid these situations.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney. This document grants the parents’ authority to have access and control over financial assets like bank accounts. As attorney in fact, parents can make decisions for their child, should they be unable to so. This could range from paying rent in an emergency situation to something as simple as renewing a car registration if their child attends school out of state.
  2. Designation of Health Care Surrogate. This document grants parents’ permission to make medical decisions on behalf of their child, should the child be unable to do so. In the unfortunate event that a child is in a severe accident, having this document on hand will provide guidance on who should be making healthcare decisions for the child.
  3. HIPAA. The HIPAA form permits medical providers to release patient information with designated people. Without this document, doctors are not required to release medical information regarding your son or daughter.
  4. Living Will. A Living Will outlines a person’s wishes about life-extending medical treatment, as well as other wishes, such as organ donations. A living will is especially helpful in the event parents have different ideas about how to handle a scenario like a terrible car accident. Through this document, the child’s wishes are outlined, providing much needed guidance during an already stressful time.

With these documents in place, parents can worry about one less thing as their young adults head off to college.


This information is intended for general purposes and not as a replacement of legal advice. You should seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss the benefits of utilizing these documents.

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