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Estate Planning Lite: College-aged Children Need a Basic Estate Plan

If your son or daughter are currently in college, encourage them to consider a setting up a basic estate plan so that you understand what their wishes are at this stage of his or her life. Let’s take a closer look at three such documents:

  1. Advance Health Care Directive. With an advance health care directive (sometimes referred to as a “health care power of attorney” or “durable medical power of attorney”), your child appoints someone — probably you or his or her other parent — to make health care decisions on his or her behalf should he or she be unable to do so. An advance health care directive should provide guidance on how to make health care decisions. Although it’s impossible to anticipate every potential scenario, the document can provide guiding principles. Included within an advance health care directive Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization gives health care providers the ability to share information about your child’s medical condition with you. Absent a HIPAA authorization, making health care decisions could be more difficult.
  2. Financial Power of Attorney. A financial power of attorney appoints someone to make financial decisions or execute transactions on your child’s behalf under certain circumstances. For example, a financial power of attorney might authorize you to handle your child’s financial affairs while he or she is out of the country studying abroad or should he or she become incapacitated.
  3. Will. Although your child is still in his or her upper teens or early twenties and probably doesn’t have too many assets, he or she isn’t too young to have a will drawn up. A will is a legal document that arranges for the distribution of property after a person dies. It names an executor or personal representative who’ll be responsible for overseeing the estate as it goes through probate. If your child receives an inheritance from grandparents or other relatives, a will can direct how those assets are distributed.

Please contact my office at virginia@virgielaw.com or 530-802-0640 if you have questions about any of these documents. We can help provide peace of mind that your child’s health and financial affairs will be properly handled should the unthinkable happen.

Virginia Ryan provides business law and estate planning services to clients in Northern California, including Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee.