Estate Planning For The College Student

For parents and students, the commencement of a new school year is much like what January 1st is to everyone else: Looking back on the recent life events and choices, while looking forward to the lofty ideals of what lays ahead – a fresh start to the “new” year. In the inception of the new school year, it is time to consider whether you are sporting an old, and less effective, estate plan. Explore your current status, and determine if you are properly prepared for tomorrow. Estate planning isn’t just for the “old & wise.” In fact, the “young and foolish” can start their ascent into wisdom by taking a look into the future, and being prepared for what is looking back! Clearly, the last thing on a young adult’s mind is designating a personal representative, and deciding whom to give their borderline non-existent fortune to. However, at such a young age, the goals of estate planning are not ripe, they are just different. For example, Junior should be less concerned with who will be inheriting his baseball card collection and Xbox, and more concerned with how his digital assets will be treated (preserved, closed, etc.), or who will be his power of attorney and/or Healthcare Surrogate. Standard college student estate planning goals can be achieved with the following documents. Durable Power of Attorney (DPA): this document is going to designate someone to take care of “business” in the event of incapacitation or death. Any financial decision or situation where the college student’s authority is necessary will require a power of attorney to step in their shoes. Furthermore, it can be useful for convenience alone. Lets just say the college student is studying abroad, and wants her parents to take care of her affair while she is gone. When Junior reaches the age of a legal “adult,” he has to authorize his parents to make decisions for him. Combination Living Will & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate: this is a very important issues for young adults, as many are surprised to hear that their parents may not be able to make health care decisions for them or access their health records. Therefore, the college student will want a living will & designation of healthcare surrogate in place, as well as HIPPA authorization, to ensure that a trusted person or parent(s) can make medical decisions on their behalf. Digital Assets Will: Today’s college student will have a lot of digital assets (social media accounts, banking accounts, school accounts, etc.). Therefore, it is often helpful to have a will in place that directs the proper administration of such accounts and assets. For monetary accounts, you may want to leave specific instructions, including the account information, and how you want the account to be closed or maintained. For sentimental accounts (social networking, photos, blogs, etc.), your main concern will be minimizing the hassle associated with loved one’s accessing your accounts, or having them closed in a manner that will preserve your privacy. Furthermore, the college student may want to consider a basic pour-over will and living trust to avoid the hassle and time associated with probate. A lesson to those who are proceeding down the path of collegiate wisdom – plan ahead!