Once your child turns 18, they’re legally considered an adult, and parents can no longer automatically make certain decisions on their behalf. However, in the event of an accident or illness, you’ll want to ensure that you can legally make necessary medical and financial decisions for them. An effective estate plan can offer peace of mind and pave the way for a smoother process.


Essential Estate Planning Documents for College-Aged Children


  1. Health Care Power of Attorney

This document allows your college-aged child to appoint someone (typically a parent) to make medical decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated. The Health Care Power of Attorney is essential if medical consent is required for a procedure and the child is unable to provide it. In Georgia, the document must be witnessed by two adults, and it’s advisable to have it notarized, though not required.


  1. Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is another crucial document. It permits your college-aged child to assign an agent, usually a parent, to manage their financial affairs if they’re unable to do so. This could be necessary if your child is studying abroad and needs someone to manage their bank accounts or sign tax returns, or in the event of an emergency.


  1. HIPAA Authorization Form

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of an individual’s health information. Once your child turns 18, their health records are now between them and their healthcare provider. To gain access to medical records in an emergency, your child needs to complete a HIPAA Authorization form.


  1. Last Will and Testament

While college-aged children might not have substantial assets, a Last Will and Testament is still essential to ensure that any assets they do have are distributed according to their wishes. In Georgia, the will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses.


Estate Planning for Parents

While ensuring your college-aged child is protected, it’s also crucial to update your own estate plan:


  1. Review Your Will

Life changes quickly, and it’s important to keep your will up-to-date. Now that your children are older, you might want to adjust how assets will be distributed or choose to include them in the execution of your estate.


  1. Consider Education Expenses

With college education comes student loans. Parents should have a clear understanding of what happens to these loans after death. Most federal student loans are discharged upon death, but private loans can be more complex. A life insurance policy could be a practical way to cover these costs.


  1. Update Your Healthcare Proxy and Power of Attorney

As your child is now an adult, you might consider naming them as your healthcare proxy or power of attorney. This decision depends on your comfort level and your child’s maturity and readiness to take on these responsibilities.


  1. Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance

Check the beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies. If you haven’t updated these since your children were born, it may be time for a revision.



Estate planning is a process that involves careful thought and consideration, particularly for families with college-aged children. While it might seem overwhelming, taking the time now to prepare or update your estate plan can save a lot of stress and confusion down the road.


Whether you’re in the heart of Atlanta or the scenic landscapes of Savannah, remember that estate planning laws vary from state to state. It’s always a good idea to consult with a Georgia estate planning attorney to ensure your plan complies with local laws and meets all your specific needs. Give our team of expert attorneys at Brian M Douglas & Associates a call today, we’re always happy to help.