There is an unfortunate common misconception that estate planning is for the wealthy or for the elderly. What many do not realize is that estate plans can also include provisions for situations that can take place when one is still alive, such as if one is unable to make important decisions or unable to take care of themselves.

College students in Georgia are now adults and while they enjoy the freedom that comes with leaving their nest and making decisions for themselves, they may not realize that with adulthood comes responsibility. They are now responsible for all decisions regarding their health, and Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mean that their parents can no longer access their medical data. Therefore, if a college going student needs medical help, it is almost impossible for their parents to step in and help. These rules even apply if the child is on their parent’s insurance plan.

Creating a HIPAA authorization can make it easier for parents to help their children in case the need arises, especially if they are far away. This legal document allows medical information to be accessible to a third party. A healthcare or medical power of attorney is another important estate planning document that lets people designate to act as their agent if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Lastly, a durable power of attorney allows the agent to make financial and medical decisions for the principal.

Ideally, parents will never need to use their forms. But this does not mean they should not exist—being prepared can prevent people from unnecessary stress in the long run, especially if a situation arises when immediate decisions need to be made. To ensure documents are comprehensive and legally sound, it might be helpful to consult an experienced attorney.