Estate Planning for College Students 101

August 2018

Soon college students will pack their boxes and cars to head off to a new and exciting year. Their brains are filled with questions like: “How will I handle my class load?”; “Which sorority/fraternity should I rush?”; “What should I do for fall break?”

One question likely NOT on their minds: “Do I need an estate plan?” 

However, over the years, we have occasionally been asked to prepare estate planning documents for students when they move to college. More recently, the request has become more frequent as some colleges are requiring documents as a condition to enrollment. The primary reason for this requirement is that most college students are at the age where they are considered adults under state law and the rights of a parent to make decisions for an adult child can be limited. For instance, parents may no longer have the legal right to access a child’s education, financial, and health records.

To address this issue, first and foremost, a parent should make their college student aware of this independence under the law. It might be best for a college student to implement a financial power of attorney and advanced medical directive (Health Care Directive) appointing their parent or another trusted individual to act as their agent for financial and health care issues that may arise upon their incapacity or while they may travel abroad. In addition, it would be helpful for a college student or their parent to have a HIPAA release form on file if that student wishes to have their medical/healthcare information released to their parent as this will allow a health care provider to do so.

Estate planning is about avoiding a mess and a little planning goes a long way – even for young adults. FMJ’s Trusts & Estates attorneys are here to help and can advise parents or college students through the process.

FMJ’s Trusts & Estates Group consists of David Ness (Shareholder), Karen Schlotthauer (Senior Counsel), Matthew Jensen (Associate), and Nicole Flaherty (Associate).