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Estate Planning for the Graduate

It’s graduation season. High school and college students everywhere are entering very exciting new chapters in their lives. The last thing any of them should be thinking about is estate planning. But as a parent, you should be thinking about this for them. With all of the changes about to take place in their lives, you have a lot to worry about but it’s important that you have one more conversation.

Most parents forget that once children turn 18, parents are no longer entitled to access that child’s medical, bank or educational records. And the right to make decisions on their behalf if they cannot is not an automatic one any longer.

What happens if your child is away at school or traveling after graduation and something happens? No parent wants to imagine feeling any more helpless in that situation but do you know whether you can make decisions or receive information if your child can’t grant authorization? Are you prepared to go to court to get it?

Everyone over the age of 18 should have the following three estate planning documents just in case:

  • Health Care Proxy. This form will grant authorization to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient. If your child names you, be sure to have a conversation with them about end of life decisions, organ donation, etc. It’s difficult but important that you understand their wishes.

  • HIPAA Release. This document will grant access to medical information and records and permit treating physicians to speak with you about your child.

  • Durable Power of Attorney. This document will grant authority to oversee financial affairs in the event that your child can’t. This will help you keep their life in order while they recover by paying bills, banking on their behalf, speaking with the college about financial aid and addressing other issues that may arise.

It is my sincerest hope that you never, ever have a need for any of these documents but having them in place will give you peace of mind and the conversation may make your child feel very adult and in control of their own future.

If you would like to speak with us about any of these documents, please contact us at 781-326-8300 or email

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