When you turn 18, your parents are no longer responsible for you in a sense. When it comes to your financial and medical records, you are 100 percent responsible and no one else can make decisions for you. Essentially, if you were to go to college, get into an accident and were unable to communicate your desires, your parents may not be able to receive any information regarding your condition or make any financial or health-related decisions on your behalf. Therefore, estate planning is just as important for a college student who has zero assets as it is to a middle-aged adult who has $1 million in assets. As a college-aged student (and essentially adult), here are three documents that you must make sure you have:

1. Financial Power of Attorney

This estate planning document will allow you to designate a certain individual to manage your finances in the event that you become physically or mentally unable to handle them on your own. In other words, if you were to give your parents power of attorney, you would be allowing them to pay your bills and apply for government benefits on your behalf, among other things. Otherwise, unless your landlord or financial institution is willing, your parents will be unable to get any type of information regarding your financial situation and may be unable to get you the funds needed to continue medical treatment if it comes down to that. If your bills aren't paid because they can't be paid by your parents, you may suffer long-lasting consequences to your credit score, causing numerous implications in the future when trying to find employment, get a mortgage, etc. Plus, you may lose your student housing, scholarship or class placement. 

2. Health Care/Medical Power of Attorney

This particular document will allow you to authorize a certain individual to make medical-related decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated and can't make them yourself. The person that you designate your medical power of attorney to can be the same person that you chose for your your durable power of attorney. They will be able to gain access to your medical records and speak to doctors and other health care professionals so that they are able to make a well-informed decision regarding your health condition. Without a medical power of attorney in place, unless a court will intervene, the decision of what type of care to provide or not provide will be up to the physician. 

3. HIPAA Release

HIPPA privacy is a big thing with health care institutions and professionals. The HIPPA Privacy Rule has been set into place in order to protect patients from others getting access to their medical information without their consent. While the law will allow information about minors to be given to their parents, it may not necessarily be the same when it comes to an adult child who can consent for their own care. Therefore, if you want your parents to receive information regarding your health condition, it is crucial that you sign a HIPAA release form and include their names on it as specified individuals who can receive information about yourself and your condition. If you fail to do this and you are in a coma, your parents may be in the dark until you come to and provide consent for them to receive information about your condition.

If you're worried about being in a strange place without anyone to take care of you, you may want to sit down with an estate planning attorney or probate lawyer. An attorney can help you evaluate your situation, determine which of these documents that you need and get the ball rolling for you.