After finishing high school, many graduates are focusing on planning for college.  Such planning includes choosing classes, buying supplies and items for classes as well as their dorm room or apartment, and preparing to move away from home for the first time – sometimes even across the country.  It can be exciting, stressful, and overwhelming all at the same time.

While there are certainly fears, worries and apprehensions on the part of parents when their children are going off to college, parents tend to try not to dwell on these thoughts – instead focusing on being encouraging and supportive about the exciting new change.  While this is a great approach, it actually is important to think about the negative “what if’s” and, more importantly, to plan for them.

Parents anticipate that their children will lead long, healthy lives – and oftentimes that is true.  Nevertheless, it is important that recent graduates get a basic estate plan.

Recent high school graduates should have the following:

  1. Power of Attorney.  If a young person gets into an accident, it is important that someone is able to legally manage their financial affairs on their behalf.  Once a person turns 18 (in most states), parents can no longer manage their finances without a Power of Attorney in place.  Without a properly drafted and executed Power of Attorney, parents may find themselves having to become a court appointed guardian in order to provide such support to their child who is over the age of 18 – a process that can be lengthy and expensive.
  2. Health Care Directive.  Similar to the Power of Attorney, a Health Care Directive allows a person over the age of 18 to appoint an authorized agent to make medical decisions on their behalf.  Once a person turns 18 (in most states), parents can no longer discuss their medical care with doctors, or make medical decisions on their behalf.  Again, parents could find themselves having to become a court appointed guardian in order to make medical decisions for their child who is over the age of 18.
  3. Get a Will. Most younger adults do not need a complicated will or estate plan.  However, a simple will is advisable as it allows the recent graduate to determine who will get their possessions, and who will be in charge of wrapping up their affairs and settling the estate.  Having a will in place may also make the probate process easier for surviving family members.

A number of clients I have worked with have come back in order to get these documents for their children – whether as a graduation gift, an 18-year old birthday gift, or while their college student is back on Christmas or Spring Break.  It may not sound like the most exciting gift, but it is certainly a gift of love and protection which, in the opinion of many parents I know, is priceless.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

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