Why Your Clients’ College-Age Children Need Health Care Directives


Why Your Clients’ College-Age Children Need Health Care Directives

As we head into the Great Wealth Transfer of $68 trillion being transitioned from older generations to younger generations, financial advisors have an opportunity to bridge generational gaps and seamlessly work with their clients’ families.

One way to begin financial planning conversations with the younger generations is for financial advisors to connect with their existing client base and encourage parents of college students to put health care documents in place for their children.

Having college students put their core health care documents in place is an excellent way to help protect them in an emergency, as well as to begin the broader conversation of managing their personal finances and health as young adults.

With winter break on the way, now is a great time to begin this conversation with your clients and encourage them to talk to their children about providing them with a health care directive, HIPAA authorization form, copies of all health-related insurance cards and an emergency contact plan.

A health care directive is a core estate planning document that financial advisors should encourage their clients and their college-age students to put in place. This document makes a college student’s wishes known to family members and doctors in the event that they are incapacitated and unable to communicate their decisions. They also can nominate a health care agent to make heath care decisions for them if they are incapacitated.

The value-add to clients is that they can make sure their college student is protected during an unexpected medical emergency and that the student will have their loved ones make decisions for them.

As soon as your clients’ children reach 18 years of age, the only way your clients can be provided health information and make decisions for their children in the event of a health crisis without a court order is if they are the named agent in their child’s health care directive.

When talking with young adults about a health care directive, it is important to highlight for them that they are in control of their own health care decisions as long as they can communicate them. Their health care directive is only “active” if they are incapacitated and are not able to communicate their own health care decisions.

Since every individual has their own values and goals for their health, and state laws vary across the country, there is no one size fits all approach for health care directives. It is vital to connect your clients with a trusted estate planning attorney who can make sure that the health care directives for their children are tailored to comply with the laws of the state in which the student is studying.