Does My Child Need An Estate Plan?

January 10, 2018, by Shelley Thompson, attorney with Burns Figa & Will, PC

estate planning

Below are some instances when a child (age birth-21) might need an estate-planning document:

  1. Healthcare Powers for Young Children. Several clients ask about getting a healthcare power of attorney for their kids when they go on vacation. For example, if parents are leaving the kids with grandparents while they travel, they will want the grandparents to have full medical authority while they are gone. A healthcare power of attorney can be prepared in those instances, providing the grandparents with the authority they need to speak for the child on all medical issues, including a HIPAA release, for a limited period of time – while the parents are gone.

  2. Healthcare Powers for College-Aged Children. Similarly, parents of college-aged children often want their children to have a healthcare power of attorney, which names their parents, to speak for them if the child cannot communicate on healthcare matters. An additional HIPAA release is often included, so that parents can access their child’s medical records and speak with doctors at any time. The college-aged child is an adult, so they are required to sign these documents in front of a notary.

  3. Wills for College-Aged Children. If your college-aged children own significant assets, like real property (a home or condominium) or a large bank account (approximately $66,000 or more), then they might consider having a will prepared. The will states who the child would leave his or her assets to in the unlikely event of death and who would be the Personal Representative, or executor, of the estate. Without a will, the assets would flow according to the laws of intestacy, which in Colorado provide that if the child is unmarried with no children, the assets go equally to the child’s living parents. Colorado probate law also provides that family members, including the parents, could petition the court to be a Personal Representative where there is no will designating the Personal Representative.

  4. Financial Power of Attorney for College-Aged Children. Similarly, when a college-aged child holds assets (such as real property or bank accounts) or has any contractual rights (such as a loan to a friend, a lease, or a business), it can be very helpful for that young adult to have a durable financial power of attorney. That document could help the named agent, i.e., a parent, negotiate a lease termination, collect an amount that is owed to the child, or handle any business transactions, in the event the child cannot. A durable power of attorney can be a very convenient and important document to have., available to California and Colorado residents, is the only website where clients, including young adults, can create their estate plan online for a reasonable fee ($399) in about 30 minutes. Upon completion, the client will receive a phone call and advice from an attorney who customizes the documents and, within a couple days, sends them for the client’s signature. is an invaluable resource for parents’ estate planning as well!