Reasons to Include Your College-age Children in Your Estate Planning

A majority of parents expect to fully pay for their child’s college education. If you or your spouse were to pass away while one or more of your children are still in college, this could impact your ability to meet their financial needs and ensure that they have a secure financial future. With counsel from an estate planning lawyer, you can take into account your college student’s current and future educational and other expenses and maintain your peace of mind.

Adult Children Have a Different Legal Standing

Once your child reaches the age of 18, they have a different legal standing than they did as a minor. After the age of 18, parents are no longer required by law to be provided with their child’s confidential health, financial or educational information. HIPAA, FERPA, and other laws apply to your child’s information. If something unexpected were to happen to you or your child, you need to have certain legal documents in place. These documents need to state that you can receive their health, financial or other information. You may also need to update documents related to life insurance, as minors can’t be direct beneficiaries of a life insurance policy. If you own  a life insurance policy on the life of your child, you may need to make changes to this policy to account for their legal status as an adult, their new residence, and their status as a full- or part-time college student.

Have a Frank Conversation With Your Child

Few college students wish to have a discussion about their own mortality or that of their parents. However, keeping your child informed about your estate plan provides them with important information that they may need to use when making decisions about their future. For example, if your college-age student plans to attend medical school, knowing that there are funds in place to pay for it in the case of your untimely death could help cement their decision. If you were to pass away and your child didn’t know whether their medical school tuition and fees would be paid for, they might opt not to take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The possibility that your child could forgo their dreams may not sit well with you, and having the conversation now could give your family assurance of a solid future.

HIPAA Release

Consider asking your child to sign a HIPAA release. This form authorizes medical practitioners to provide you with your child’s pertinent medical information. If your child was ill or injured and unable to make their own medical decisions, or you need information about their health during an emergency situation, a HIPAA release allows the provider to release your adult child’s confidential medical information to you.

Financial Matters

College students may incur debt for tuition, room and board, fees, credit cards, and international travel for studying abroad. You may wish to help your child set up a financial estate plan of their own in order to have something in place for their liabilities and any assets they have. If you intend to leave funds to your child while they are in college, you may want to have your estate plan include direct payments to the college for their educational expenses.

Working with an estate planning lawyer could help you prepare a solid financial foundation for your college-age children. Setting up an estate plan that takes into account your college student’s goals and plans for the future may provide you with peace of mind. For more about estate planning for your college-age children, reach out to The Knee Law Firm in Hackensack at (201) 996-1200, or enter your contact information into our online contact form, and an office associate will contact you to set up an appointment.