Thursday, August 12, 2010

When Student Loans Outlive the Student

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about private student loans -- unlike government loans, money borrowed by a student through a private lender are usually NOT forgiven upon the student's death. The story focuses on Christopher Bryski, who died two years after falling from a tree and entering a coma. His story offers two important lessons:
  • private student loans are not forgiven upon death, and a co-signor will likely be held responsible for payment; and
  • the fact that anyone over age 18 is a legal stranger in terms of finances -- just trying to cancel his credit cards after his fall was difficult for his parents to accomplish. Having a power of attorney for finance in place, by which he names a parent or sibling to act if he cannot, would have reduced some of the family's red tape and stress.
As students return to campuses it would be wise for everyone involved to know the terms of any private student loan agreement, and to establish powers of attorney for the state in which the student will be residing.

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