Whether your kids are in grade school or off to college, California’s back-to-school season is the ideal time to consider whether your estate plan is fulfilling the needs of your whole family or not. This time of year has families scrambling to ensure schedules are set and everybody has what they need to succeed in the next steps of their lives. So, what parts of your estate plan specifically need attention?
Healthcare and Finances for College Students
One of the most important factors to consider is when your child turns 18 you may no longer have access to medical and financial records or decisions. They are considered a legal adult capable of making their own decisions.
College can be a stressful time for our children with changes coming from every corner. They’re going to make new friends, they’re going to spend money, and they’re going to take risks. It’s a part of becoming an adult and learning how to be independent in our fast-paced world.
As parents, we want to be involved in those decisions while also letting our children exercise newfound freedoms. However, we can’t predict when bad things happen. For instance, if your child is hurt and ends up in the hospital then you may not have access to even know what hospital they’re in, what condition they’re in, and what type of care they’re receiving.
That’s where a Power of Attorney comes in. You can have your child appoint you as a legal power of attorney which would allow you to be involved in any healthcare decisions they’re unable to make themselves. The same is true for financial decisions – if they’re incapacitated then the power of attorney forms can appoint you as the decision maker when it comes to outstanding financial debts and investments they need during that time.
Caring for Children With Special Needs
When our children have special needs, it can be especially intimidating to put their care in the hands of someone we don’t know well. Whether it’s middle school, high school, or college, our children with special needs should have a support system around them as they grow individually.
If you have a child with special needs taking another step in their educational journey, it’s important to make sure they’re provided for. This could mean making sure a Special Needs Trust is in place. These types of trusts provide funds for the care and needs of our children with special needs without risking additional government benefits. If we just hand our money to them then they may not qualify for certain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid benefits. Providing funds through a Special Needs Trust protects these qualifications.
Have Assets Changed Hands?
Your estate should be updated anytime you have significant changes to the assets you hold, especially if you have a trust that you intend to keep out of probate. So, what may have changed recently? Did you give your child one of your vehicles as their first car that they can take to campus with them? Did you front a large sum of money to cover the heavy financial burden that comes with going to college in America today?
These situations and others that come with sending a child off to college or even to late-high school impact your own estate plan. You will need to work with an attorney to make sure all documents are updated to reflect any such changes to the assets you hold. If you have legally transferred the title of your vehicle to your child then the vehicle should not be referenced in your own documents.
Call an Attorney to Get Your Plan Right
The best way to check this off your back-to-school to-do list is to work with an experienced California estate planning attorney. That’s where Solan, Park & Robello comes in. Our team cares for you and your family’s future. Contact us and get your plan right for the whole family.