While some people do not start college or university until later in life, most enroll right after they graduate from high school. They are typically only 18 or 19 years old, and for many, it feels like life is only just beginning.
It may seem premature for those not yet out of their teens to think about estate planning. However, in the eyes of the law, they are adults. Therefore, parents may no longer have decision-making authority and laws regarding privacy, intestate succession and probate typically apply.
According to Bloomberg Tax, a young college student should consider creating a will and/or a trust if there are assets in his or her name. A student may not yet have a life insurance policy or a 401(k) plan, but he or she may own property such as a computer or an automobile with significant value. A will or a trust allows the student to decide where his or her assets will go. Otherwise, the court will make the determination according to the applicable rules of intestate succession.
Perhaps a more important consideration for a college student, as U.S. News and World Report observes, is choosing a health care proxy and durable power of attorney to act on the student’s behalf in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to make his or her own decisions. What students and parents alike may not realize is that even if a young person is still living at home, the law does not recognize parents’ authority to make financial or health care decisions on the student’s behalf once he or she attains the age of 18.
Estate planning is less about protecting one’s assets and finances and more about protecting oneself and one’s family if the worst should happen.