This is a discussion of how important it is for young adults to begin Estate Planning, with an overview of some considerations and potential first steps that can be invaluable as you begin this process.
Typically, individuals think about Estate Planning as involving decisions that can be made later in life. The reality, however, is that young adults need Estate Planning too. Once a child turns 18 years old, his or her parents no longer have the legal ability to make decisions for their child or gain access to certain types of private information. While this may not seem important as a child grows into adulthood, it can be crucial in the event of a medical emergency.
When formulating an Estate Plan, a young adult can name another person to make medical and financial decisions in the event that they do not possess the mental or physical capacity to make these decisions for themselves. This will allow the appointed person to have access to private medical records and financial accounts as necessary in the case of an emergency situation. Even though one expects to never have to use these documents, all parties involved are relieved to have them.
If a young adult is incapacitated, it is important for the following documents to be drafted by an attorney and signed:
- A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – this gives another person legal authority to make health care decisions (including life and death decisions) on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself
- A Durable Financial Power of Attorney – this gives another person legal authority to manage your assets without court interference
- HIPAA Authorization – this gives your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation with others, including family members and other loved ones
Unlike a “regular” power of attorney, which ends at incapacity, a “durable” power of attorney remains valid through incapacity. Your attorney can draft this document in such a way that it will not go into effect unless you become incapacitated.
Beyond durability, organization is another important consideration when filing these types of documents. It is important for the appointed person to know where to locate financial records and online passwords, if necessary. A hard copy can also be beneficial should your computer be locked or lost. You should also document passwords to social media and other online accounts to allow the authorized person to delete and monitor these as needed.
Finally, taking these considerations into account even as a young adult has the potential to relieve stress on both your family and your loved ones in the event that something unexpected arises. Ultimately, it can pose a very difficult situation for those you care about if critical decisions such as those discussed here are left for them to decide on their own. Estate Planning secures the integrity of your wishes, and it is never too early to begin planning what is best for you or your family.
ODGERS LAW GROUP specializes in Estate Planning and can help you create a master plan that includes financial and health care directives to address your potential concerns. To learn more about estate planning or to schedule your free consultation with Mr. Odgers, contact us by e-mail, call us at (858) 869-1114, or schedule your appointment online here.