Can your kids go to college without you?

What if tragedy struck and you were not around to help your kids with college? There are many ways in which parents plan for their children’s college needs.  Some create savings accounts, others 529 plans, and others simply plan on contributing directly during those college years.

But what if tragedy struck and parents were to pass prior to their children starting college.  In planning for such an event, it is critically important to have documents in place as part of estate planning which provide for your children’s college education.

The best tool is to have a trust that provides funding for your kids for college.  The trust might be funded with life insurance, liquidated assets, business interests, retirement accounts, or any other form of funding.  If the parents were to pass, the trust should have specific instructions as to how college funding is to be managed.

While some trusts reference college education, it is important to specifically delineate the parameters of those provisions.  Any trust provisions addressing college education should reflect and include the following:

  1. What are the age limits?
  2. Are the funds for college tuition only?
  3. Is there a cap on the amount of funds for each beneficiary?
  4. What type of degrees are covered (Associates, Bachelors, Post-Graduate)?
    5. Does it pay for full-time enrollment only?
  5. Is payment provided for full or partial tuition?
  6. Is payment provided for living expenses?
  7. Is payment provided for books and incidentals?
  8. Are only accredited institutions permitted?
  9. Are trade schools permitted?

Provided a trust includes these issues, the college education will reflect the desires and goals of the parents, even after their passing.

If it is your desire to ensure that your children can obtain college education without you, such provisions are critically important.  Further, given that parents never know for sure what the future will hold, it is important to enact such planning immediately.  Each estate plan should be unique and tailored to the parents’ desires.  We strongly recommend consultation with your professional team, including your attorney, accountant, and financial planner, to accomplish the planning that is best for you and your family.

For further information or research on these issues, please feel free to check the blogs and resources at, or call (303) 586-5905.

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