College Students Consider a New Class: Estate Planning 101

This fall, many parents across Los Angeles helped their kids pack up and head off to college. Many proud moms and dads helped their children pick out dorm room essentials, pack their suitcases and find their way to their new home. Starting college can be a very emotional experience for both parents and kids, as it marks the beginning of a new chapter. Even though they still may still seem like children to their parents, college students are entering adulthood.

Becoming an adult comes with many opportunities and challenges and after the age of 18, a young person will have to consider what responsibilities come with being a legal adult. Even though they may still feel as though a parent will be able to take care of them, young people should understand that at age 18, there are some major changes that take place. College students may not be aware that if something happens to them and they end up in the hospital, their parents may not be able to make crucial decisions for them.

This is why many college students may want to consider putting together an estate plan.

Estate plans do not just address properties and assets. They often include documents that assign a health-care proxy and appoint a power of attorney. Both of these positions would be essential roles to fill once a person turns 18, as his or her parent is no longer automatically granted the rights to make financial or medical decisions on behalf of their child.

For example, if something terrible happens and a student ends up in the hospital incapacitated and unable to communicate, that person’s parents may not be able to get even the most basic information about the condition of their child. Many worried parents would have to spend time and money securing legal documentation to access their child’s medical records and make decisions on his or her behalf. This can add extreme stress and anxiety to an already difficult situation.

This is why California parents and college students may want to consider speaking with an attorney about an estate plan. It may not always be fun to be an adult and make these types of decisions, but once they are made, a young person can go back to focusing on school and their parents can have some peace of mind knowing their child’s care is protected.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Why Your College-Age Children Need an Estate Plan,” Anne Tergesen, Sept. 21, 2013