Starting College? Start an Estate Plan

Estate Planning

Students leaving home for college may be focusing on studying for classes, but they may want to consider studying their own estate plan. There are over 200 colleges in North Carolina, but how many matriculating students have thought about what could happen if they are in an accident far from home?

The new college environment poses many risks that students were not exposed to before. Driving on unfamiliar roads, adjusting to a new routine and lifestyle, campus parties, fraternity and sorority pledges, missing family and friends, the stress of school work, and financial tension over the cost of paying for college all have an effect on a student’s health. The New York Times reported in 2011 that the emotional and mental health of college freshman is at a significant low, with about half of the 200,000 students surveyed suffering depression and relying on prescription medications.
There’s also a possibility that a student becomes the victim of a random violent act. What if a student is in an accident and unable to communicate? Parents may not have access to medical information, be permitted to make important decisions about their child’s health, or may not have legal rights to make financial decisions on their child’s behalf. What if bills go unpaid while the student is recovering? The credit damage could follow them for years after they are finished with college. These situations are avoidable with a simple estate plan.
At the very least, establish powers of attorney in North Carolina. Executing an advance healthcare directive can resolve complicated issues and reduce unnecessary stress should a college student become incapacitated. This will allow the student to appoint an individual with the responsibility of making medical decisions on their behalf. With the restrictions put in place by the Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act, (HIPAA), it is also important that young adults, just as everyone else, have executed authorizations to allow parents and or family members to speak to doctors and review medical records. The student can also complete a durable power of attorney, which will appoint an agent the authority to make financial decisions.
One of the benefits of estate planning for college students is that it is a much simpler and less expensive process compared to older, established individuals who may have multiple assets, dependents, divorces, and unique situations to consider. Whether students are living on campus or at home and commuting to a college in North Carolina, an estate plan can address the specific needs of the student and make it easier to manage unexpected emotional events.
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