The start of June typically ushers in the end of a long and busy school year for most families. For parents of students who are about to begin college this is a particularly emotional time. Between graduation parties and preparing for your child’s move to campus, the one thing you’re probably not thinking about is an estate plan for your child. Most parents overlook the creation of an estate plan because they think their kids are too young. Others do not want to think about something horrible happening to their loved ones. Additionally, many think that you need to have property and assets to warrant an estate plan. Not true. An estate plan is more than designating how your property is distributed upon death. A comprehensive estate plan also includes planning for situations where you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Every 18-year-old, especially college students, should have a basic estate plan in place. A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a great article that advocated for this very point. You can read the full article here.
At eighteen, your child reaches adulthood; and, as a result, parents are no longer able to access their child’s medical and financial information nor are they able to make decisions on their behalf. If your child is admitted to a hospital, for instance, doctors may not release medical information or discuss treatment decisions with you. Therefore, it is vital that young adults set up a basic estate plan so they can appoint individuals to make decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to do so themselves.
As the WSJ article recommends, your child’s estate plan should include the following documents:
Healthcare Power of Attorney: This document allows your child to appoint an agent who can make medical decisions on his/her behalf when the child is unable to do so. It also allows the agent to access the child’s medical records. The agent will work with the child’s medical team in accordance to the instructions outlined in the document.
Power of Attorney for Property: This document allows your child to appoint an agent who can make decisions with respect to financial and legal matters on his/her behalf. This document can be useful even if your child is capable of making decisions on his/her own.
We also recommend that your child’s estate plan include a basic Will:
Last Will and Testament: This document allows your child to specifiy how his/her assets should be distributed to his/her heirs upon death.
Together, these documents provide parents with means to assist a child in both financial and medical matters in the event the child becomes incapacitated or is unable to do so. They also provide families with peace of mind; in the event something unexpected occurs, you know your child will be cared for.
So, as you prepare to send your kids off to college this summer, make sure to add basic estate planning to your to-do list. Attorneys at Chokshi Filippone Law LLC can work with you and your family to put together an estate plan that suits your needs. Set up a consultation today.