Back to school or college. Check your estate planning documents.

When Packing for Back to College, Don’t Forget Your Estate Plan! 

With Back to College season in full swing, students are getting their last-minute packing in—shower shoes, mattress toppers, textbooks. . . the list goes on. But is there something missing from this packing list? According to estate planning attorneys and professionals, yes! Estate planning might seem like only a necessary precaution for older individuals, but this is far from the truth. Everyone can benefit from a well-crafted estate plan. This is especially true during major life events, such as graduating high school and beginning secondary education.

Will. To begin, you might want to consider a will—depending on your circumstances. In the extremely unfortunate event that you were to die, a will would protect your interests in passing your assets to whose whom you want to have them. While there are default rules of succession when you die without a will, it is best practice to avoid dying intestate (i.e., without a will) because these default rules may not accurately reflect your true wishes. Accordingly, a will is suggested—even as young as 18 years old—to provide peace of mind that your wishes will be honored and your loved ones will not have additional worries if you were to pass away at a young age.

Asset Protection. There are alternative methods, other than a will, that can be used to pass your assets upon your death. For example, you can designate beneficiaries on certain accounts or create a trust. This is something to discuss with an estate planning professional, as the best choices for you are highly individual, depending on your assets and other circumstances.

Healthcare. Something that should be a major topic of consideration for anyone, but especially those going off to college, is healthcare decision-making. While the parent of a 17-year-old has some decision-making power regarding their child’s healthcare, this largely terminates on the child’s 18th birthday. You should take this opportunity to consider whether various advanced directives (such as designating a healthcare surrogate and creating a living will) and providing a trusted person with power of attorney is appropriate for your situation.

Other. Just like with healthcare, there are many aspects of a teenager’s life that their parents lose automatic privileges to upon the child’s 18th birthday. Particular to education, for instance, FERPA prevents disclosure of university-held records without the student’s consent. Back to college is the perfect time to reflect on such topics—and potentially consult an attorney to aid in doing so—so that you can step into this new chapter with the right foot forward.

We are here to help you and your family. Call us now, Chepenik Trushin LLP for all of your estate planning reviews, edits and updating or estate planning questions. Bart Chepenik 305-613-3548 or Brad Trushin, 305-981-8889.


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