You might think of estate planning as only something older people or those with high assets need to do. But even young adults should be thinking about their futures and preparing for the worst. With the help of an estate planning attorney, you can help your child protect themselves and their assets by starting their estate planning early, such as before going to college.

Why Your College Student Should Have a Will

Here are a few of the biggest reasons why your college student should have a will:

It’s Never Too Early to Start Estate Planning

Starting college marks a big step in your child’s life; that’s why ensuring their affairs are in order as they grow into young adulthood is essential. Creating a will before they go off to school can make things easier for kids and parents alike.

It’s Easier Than You Think

Creating a will isn’t time-consuming and can be simple, especially since your child may not have many assets. Online resources can help you get started, but you should work with an estate planning attorney for help drafting a will that ensures everything is in order.

Even Young Adults Have Assets

Although your child may not have significant assets, they still need a plan for what they have. Decisions about bank accounts, their possessions, and even pets can be outlined in a will.

Your child also probably has digital assets like social media accounts, personal photos, and online subscriptions — perhaps even investments or cryptocurrency. They can specify wishes for assets like these in a will, preventing their loss or unintended exposure.

Provide Peace of Mind for Your Loved Ones

It might seem unthinkable to consider what would happen if you lost your child at such a young age. Even so, having a will in place can provide peace of mind knowing your child’s wishes would be respected. It can also prevent confusion and potential conflict among loved ones during a difficult time if the worst happens.

Lay a Stable Foundation for the Future

Another advantage of creating a will for your college student is that it gets them thinking about the future and helps them take steps toward financial independence. Doing so can instill a sense of responsibility and help them get a full picture of their debts, assets, and future opportunities.

Your child should also know they can always update their will when they experience big life events — and they will. Changes like getting married, having children, or coming into money can be reflected in your child’s will later.

Estate Planning Essentials for College Students

Here are a few essential documents your child should have in place before going off to school:

  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA)– This allows you or someone you trust to make medical and healthcare-related decisions for your child.
  2. Durable Power of Attorney (POA)– Durable power of attorney ensures you or someone you trust can make financial decisions for your child if they become incapacitated. This could include paying bills, managing bank accounts, or handling investments.
  3. HIPAA Authorization– A HIPAA authorization form allows your child’s doctor to share medical information about them. This can be critical if you need to make informed decisions about your child’s health care in an emergency.
  4. Advance Directive – This typically includes a living will, which outlines the types of medical interventions your child would or would not want if they could not make their own decisions.

An estate planning attorney can help your child draft these documents and any others they may need.

Pitfalls of Waiting Until It’s Too Late

While college students might feel invincible and their mortality a distant idea, neglecting estate planning can have several unforeseen pitfalls down the line:

More Uncertainty

Young adults accumulate more belongings than they might expect. Without a will or plan, the fate of their laptops, phones, and other important property becomes subject to state laws, potentially leading to unintended or unwanted outcomes.

Loss of Control

Incapacity due to accident or illness is a possibility at any age. Without an advance directive outlining medical preferences and a healthcare proxy, loved ones face agonizing decisions and navigate a complex medical system without a clear roadmap.

Financial and Emotional Strain on the Family

When someone dies intestate (without a will), loved ones are left to navigate legal complexities and emotional turmoil during a difficult time. If a student has dependents like younger siblings or children, their sudden passing without financial planning can leave them vulnerable. A will can designate guardians and ensure resources are set aside for their care.

Intestacy, combined with grief, can lead to family disputes over asset distribution. To avoid a legal battle that could bring even more hardship to your family, having a clear plan would allow you to focus instead on being together and healing.

Contact Us for Help Planning for Your College Student’s Future

Beginning college can bring stress and big changes for young students and their families. Creating a will early can eliminate much of the uncertainty around the future of your child’s finances and possessions if something were to happen to them.

If you have questions about estate planning for your future college student or if you’re ready to create a will, contact Charlotte Estate Planning. Our attorneys will take care of the details so your child can confidently pursue their education, knowing they have a solid plan for their future.

Contact us today at (704) 766-8836 to schedule an initial consultation.

View All Blogs