Home Again: Take Care of Business During Your College Student’s Christmas Break

Author: Estate and Elder Law Services

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For parents of college students, it probably seems just like yesterday when you dropped your young adult off at the dorm for the first time. You probably made up his bed, helped him unpack his footlocker, and then left him to discover the world on his own. He was thrilled with his independence, and you were thrilled that he made it to school in one piece. You watched him grow from a young boy to a young man. Any now, he his home for Christmas break, probably with a basket full of laundry, a habit of sleeping in, and he is probably eating you out of house and home.

Believe it or not, this young adult needs to consider signing legal documents to begin his Estate Plan. When most people hear the words “estate planning,” they picture leather bound binders and long, legal sized documents signed by people who are a bit older, and with a lot of money. Unfortunately, the “old school” depiction of estate planning on television shows has made the endeavor seem impractical for most people. The truth is, though, that everyone who is over the age of 18 should have legal documents in place to plan for their death and incapacity.

The typical college student in his early twenties drives his parent’s car, lives in his parent’s house, and his only true possession is student loan debt. While a Will may not be practical for that young man, he should still create a plan for what will happen to him if he becomes incapacitated. Who will make his medical decisions? Who will manage his finances? Without a plan, a legal guardianship would need to be established so someone could make his medical decisions and execute financial transactions. The guardian would bear the brunt of the financial and time consuming burden of the guardianship.

4 Reasons Why a Young Person Should Have an Estate Plan:

1. You are three times more likely to become disabled than to die. A Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive are integral documents if you suffer disability, and can avoid the expense and burden of a legal guardianship proceeding.

2. Young people often travel and leave their apartments, cars and bank accounts unattended. A Durable Power of Attorney will give authority to an agent of your choice to help you manage your assets and property, even if you are studying abroad.

3. Absent a written release, Federal Law prohibits colleges from providing parents with details about their child’s grades, finances and living arrangements. A Power of Attorney may you’re your parents the ability to gain access your school records and other details.

4. Well, parents are just wiser. Young adults, with all of their moxy and confidence, are still often the victims of designing persons, such as salesmen, credit card companies and landlords. A Durable Power of Attorney will allow your agent to defend you in such an event.

The following are the documents that your young adult should have in place:

1. Advance Health Care Directive- This document appoints an agent to make medical decisions for a person who cannot provide informed consent to medical treatment

2. Living Will- This is a statement of a person’s wishes in an end of life scenario, including termination of life support, organ donation and artificial nutrition and hydration

3. Durable Power of Attorney- This document appoints an agent to make financial decisions for a person who is incapacitated or otherwise unavailable, or who is simply too busy

4. Digital Asset Authorization- This appoints an agent to access online accounts and passwords, and social media accounts, for a person who is incapacitated or unavailable.

Stress to your young adult the importance of signing these documents, at least before he goes off on Spring Break!
The attorneys at Estate and Elder Law Services know that an estate plan is more than just a Will. Bring your loved ones to see an attorney to discuss the documents that will help everyone if incapacity should occur.

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