Not Too Young for College? You’re Not Too Young for Estate Planning!

by | Aug 4, 2021 | education planning, family law and estate planning

“It’s easy to assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy or elderly,” Cody Barbo writes in Forbes. “Anyone over the age of 18 should start thinking about their estate plan – regardless of income level,” Barbo asserts.

Having a child reach legal adulthood, about to spend extended amounts of time away from home, can be a bit of a shock to parents estate planning attorneys realize. Still, at Geyer Law, we have found that part of helping a son or daughter transition into the next phase of growth is making sure proper “just-in-case” documents have been drafted. In fact, at our law firm we refer to personalized estate planning as “preparing for your future”. Nowhere is that expression more fitting than for young people embarking on their first big step towards independence.

As legal adults, the Law Review reminds college-age kids, you need basic documents, because when you become a legal adult, your parents no longer have this role. Young adults may not yet own significant property or financial assets, but the Review authors remind them that they need a plan for their digital assets. The Review asks “Who is going to have access to and take care of your social media and email accounts if you are incapacitated?”

3 basic documents “new adults” should have in place before going off to college:

  • Healthcare power of attorney – This document specifies who is to be notified in a healthcare crisis, and authorizes a person to access their medical records and to make medical decisions on their behalf.
  • Financial power of attorney – This document enables chosen individuals to make financial decisions and manage assets if the child cannot do that for themselves.
  • Will – Outlines the student’s wishes about their assets in the event of their death.

Parents often mistakenly assume that if their child were to lose the ability to communicate medical decisions, that doctors and financial institutions would release information to parents. Without proper documentation, however, as Anne Tergeson cautions in the Wall Street Journal, that is not necessarily the case.

Fact is, many young adults, as a result of estate and gift planning done by their parents, grandparents, and other relatives do go off to college already owning significant property. That’s why, at Geyer Law, we encourage family conferences to help coordinate and carry out the plans of the different family members. One important “rite of passage” for a young adult family member might in fact be participating in just such a family “pow-wow”.

The message: Not too young for college? Not too young for an estate plan!

– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W Geyer blog team