If You are Sending a Child to College – Pack an Estate Plan.
This is an exciting time of the year for many families sending a child off to college. Whether you are sending your first child to college or your last, don’t forget to pack an estate plan.
A common misconception about estate planning is that you have to be wealthy to do it. This could not be further from the truth. An estate plan can be as simple as one needs it to be and even a single college student should have one.
A single college student does not need a complicated estate plan, rather a simple one will suffice. A simple estate plan should include a medical power of attorney, mental health care power of attorney, financial power of attorney, living will and simple last will and testament.
Life is full of what-ifs. Therefore, parents routinely pay for various forms of insurance to protect against all the what-ifs associated with raising a child: medical care, car accidents, life insurance in case a child dies and umbrella insurance protection for those crazy things a child might do.
Many parents allow their children however to go away to college, on a church mission or even into the military without any type of legal documents to protect against life’s what-ifs.
Having a medical and mental health care power of attorney with a HIPAA (federal privacy act) release will avoid a parent having to go to a court and be appointed as guardian if a child has a major medical issue.
It’s okay for a child to draft an Arizona medical power of attorney even if they are leaving the state. Medical and mental health care power of attorney documents, properly drafted in the State of Arizona, will be recognized and deemed valid in other states under the United States Constitution.
It is also a good idea to have a general durable financial power of attorney that allows parents to deal with various financial affairs of a child while he or she is away. Having a financial power of attorney will also help avoid a court initiated conservatorship if there is a serious medical problem.
Although most children who are just heading off to college will not have a lot of assets, a simple last will and testament allows a child to name beneficiaries of his or her assets and appoint a personal representative to gain access to social media accounts, digital assets, bank accounts, sale a vehicle and other tangible items if he or she were to die. This becomes especially important when a child comes from a blended family.
Just because your child has become an adult, is moving away from home and wants to have independence and autonomy, does not mean that you still should not be a parent and give them good advice.
Advising your child to create a simple estate plan or even helping to pay for their simple estate plan is good parenting and “legal” insurance for life’s what-ifs.
Finally, when children move away or to college it may be a good time for parents to evaluate their own estate plan to determine whether updates or revisions need to be made.
Many parents like to consider having their adult children serve in various fiduciary roles and responsibilities such as being their medical agent, financial agent, trustee or personal representative.
However, as a warning: just because a child is now an adult does not mean they should serve in these fiduciary roles. These issues should be discussed at length with a qualified estate planning attorney prior to making any changes.
If you have any questions regarding family based estate planning, Arizona probate administration, trust administration or any other legal issues, please call the attorneys at Rowley, Chapman & Barney, Ltd. (480) 833-1113.