5 Essential Steps for Parents When Sending Their Child to College: A Guide to Estate Planning

Essential steps every parent should take when sending their child to college.



1/12/20242 min read

person writing on white paper
person writing on white paper

As a parent, sending your child off to college is a significant milestone in both their lives and yours. It marks the beginning of their journey towards independence and adulthood. While you may be focused on helping them navigate the challenges of college life, it is also important to consider the legal and financial aspects of this transition. Estate planning plays a crucial role in ensuring your child's well-being and protecting their assets. In this article, we will discuss five essential steps for parents to take when their child goes to college, from an estate planning perspective.

1. Establish a Durable Power of Attorney

Before your child heads off to college, it is important to establish a durable power of attorney. This legal document allows you, as the parent, to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of your child if they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves. By having a durable power of attorney in place, you can ensure that you have the authority to handle any financial or legal matters that may arise during their time at college.

2. Create a Healthcare Proxy

In addition to a durable power of attorney, it is crucial to create a healthcare proxy for your child. A healthcare proxy grants you the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of your child if they are unable to do so. College life can bring about unexpected health issues, and having a healthcare proxy ensures that you can act in their best interests and make informed decisions regarding their medical care.

3. Review and Update Beneficiary Designations

When your child goes to college, it is essential to review and update beneficiary designations on any accounts or policies that you have in place. This includes life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and investment accounts. Ensure that the designated beneficiaries are up to date and reflect your child's current needs and circumstances. By doing so, you can ensure that your child will be protected and provided for in the event of your passing.

4. Consider a Trust for Asset Protection

As your child embarks on their college journey, it may be wise to consider establishing a trust to protect their assets. A trust can provide asset protection, ensuring that the funds you have set aside for your child's education and future remain secure. By placing assets in a trust, you can have more control over how they are used and distributed, providing peace of mind for both you and your child.

5. Discuss Financial Responsibility and Budgeting

While estate planning is crucial, it is equally important to have open and honest discussions with your child about financial responsibility and budgeting. Going to college often marks the first time your child will have to manage their own finances. Teach them about budgeting, saving, and the importance of responsible financial decision-making. By instilling these skills early on, you can help set your child up for a successful financial future.

As parents, it is natural to want to protect and provide for your child, even when they are away at college. By following these five essential steps, you can ensure that your child's legal and financial needs are met during this important transition. Remember, estate planning is an ongoing process, so it is important to regularly review and update your plan as circumstances change. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to safeguard your child's future. Contact the attorneys at the Ament Law Group today for help getting the proper protection in place!