When you think of estate planning, college-aged children are likely not what comes to mind—unless you’re thinking of your grandchildren, that is. Surprisingly, even young adults would benefit from having certain estate-planning documents in order, though. First among these are those related to healthcare as once a child turns 18, they become responsible for all decisions regarding their health.

HIPAA and its Restrictions

When a child reaches the age of majority, the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) restricts parents’ access to their children’s medical records and other healthcare-related information. This means that it can be near-impossible for parents to intervene or assist in college-aged children’s medical needs, especially if acting from a distance. This is true regardless of whether the child remains on the parents’ medical insurance.

What Can You Do?

Having certain estate planning documents in order when your child arrives to adulthood—at least in the eyes of the law—is crucial. Below are three that are truly indispensable:

• HIPAA authorization – This document permits a third-party access an individual’s health information. While it may feel like an affront to a parent to think of them self as a third party, it is important to know that upon turning 18, this is where you stand in relation to your now-adult child.

• Medical/healthcare power of attorney – This document gives an individual the ability to designate another person to act as their agent in the event that they become unable to make decisions regarding their healthcare.

• Durable power of attorney – Similar to the above, this document gives a third-party authority to make healthcare-related decisions, financial translations, and sign legal documents on an individual’s behalf should they be rendered unable to do so on their own.

While these three documents can easily be located online, it is prudent to seek input from an attorney when completing them so that you may relax knowing you are prepared should you have to intervene on your behalf of your children’s healthcare, even if upon turning 18 they are no longer considered children at all.


Reach out to our team at the Deliberato Law Center to set up an estate plan for your college student…or for yourself! Contact us using the brief form below, and a member of our team will get in touch to answer your questions and help guide you towards estate planning decisions that bring you peace of mind.