Your college-bound child: Any estate planning considerations?

If your Southern California family has recently dropped off a child at college to begin his or her newly exciting life as a freshman, you and your spouse might be thinking that you’ve thought of everything that needs to be taken care of.

In fact, you — and, importantly, your son or daughter — might have failed to attend to some key matters.

Perhaps you might be surprised or even a bit bemused to be told that what you and your child didn’t get around pertains to omitted tasks in the realm of estate planning.

That might just baffle you. What on earth would your 18-year-old need to address in a legal sphere that centrally features things like wills, trusts and other documents that speak to inheritances, dispositions, tax avoidance and other weighty matters?

Actually, estate planning encompasses much more than just those things and, as is made clear by a recent article, can be a very important thing to focus upon for a newly minted adult.

Because, you see, your 18 year old is unquestionably an adult, and you no longer have automatic rights to step in and make judgments regarding his or her finances, health care outcomes and other significant matters.

But you can step in to timely ensure that such things are addressed before your child begins a new chapter of life. He or she can — and, indeed, should — execute a durable power of attorney that gives you access to key financial information and allows you to make decisions in the event that your child becomes incapacitated and is unable to do so.

Similarly, discretion can also reside in you in the health care realm, if your child has named you as an agent empowered to make critically important decisions regarding care in an advanced health care directive.

In truth, there is much to think about regarding financial and health care planning for your new freshman prior to that first exciting day on campus. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide information and proven legal representation that can help you and your child have a plan in place that truly promotes family interests.

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