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Estate planning for college students

Even though it can be difficult for many Delaware parents to think of their children as adults after they reach the age of majority, in the eyes of the law, they are adults. This comes with certain shifts in the legal rights of parents. College students -- frankly, anyone age 18 or older -- needs to engage in at least basic estate planning since most of them are now solely, legally responsible for their finances, health and assets.

Delaware parents will no longer have access to information regarding their children's healthcare and will not be able to make decisions regarding it. Furthermore, parents will not have access to an adult child's financial, real or personal assets. Right or wrong, any decisions made regarding financial and health matters belong to the child.

This is just a part of becoming an adult, and many parents remain advisers to their children long after they reach adulthood. However, if an emergency arises, and the child is unable to make these decisions due to some incapacitation due to illness or accident, parents will be forced to go to court in order to obtain the right to make decisions on the child's behalf during this time. If powers of attorney are in place, this step could be skipped and someone will be able to take over making decisions on the child's behalf.

If an adult child dies, having a will can make the probate process easier. Otherwise, the state's intestacy laws will determine what happens to their property -- even if it is only a car and/or a bank account. It should be noted that the child could appoint anyone he or she chooses to be the agents in powers of attorney and the executor of the will. 

College students and their parents often have the view that they have their whole lives ahead of them. Sadly, that is not always the case, and it would be advisable to prepare for these eventualities while hoping the documents are never needed. Estate planning is not just for adults who are established in their careers or who have families -- it is for every adult.

Source: blog.credit.com, "Does a College Student Need an Estate Plan?", Brad Wiewel, Sept. 6, 2016

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