Too frequently I hear about a tragedy involving a young person that is compounded by a lack of planning. As people move through their twenties and thirties and begin to accumulate assets, wealth, and have families there are a number of new “adulting” items that must be handled. Often, that does not include estate planning. The reasoning for this may be sound, what is the likeliness of a tragedy occurring in your twenties or thirties? More importantly the question to ask yourself, what is the risk of something happening without proper planning in place? As a young person, when you hear the phrase “estate planning,” you probably dismiss the idea thinking you will worry about that at some later point in life. There is more to estate planning than simply drafting a will, which only matters if you die. Estate planning is about having clear directions for your loved one what would happen if you die or unable to handle your own affairs.
Estate planning as a young adult does not need to be complicated. The best place to start is by naming a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. A power of attorney is when an individual grants someone else the right to act on their behalf. Naming an individual as your durable power of attorney means you are giving that individual the power to make decisions on your behalf, in the event that you are unable to make decisions on your own. Similarly, a health care power of attorney is an individual you name to make medical decisions on your behalf, in the event that you are unable to handle your own medical care. By naming a durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney while you are young, you will not leave any important financial or medical decisions to chance.
Many people begin estate planning without realizing it. When you start a job and contribute to a retirement plan, you name a designated beneficiary to receive the account if you die. This is estate planning! If you have life insurance in place you have also named a beneficiary, more estate planning!
For many people, having children is the significant life event that prompts the discussion: “what happens if we both die?” Once you have children, it is of the utmost importance for you to meet with a lawyer and create a will. If a tragedy were to occur and you and your spouse were to die, you wouldn’t want to leave your child’s fate to chance. You want to have clear conversations with your family about your wishes and commit these wishes to paper. Your will should include a guardianship designation. Frequently we advise establishing a trust as well to ensure the child’s health, maintenance, and education is funded. It is vital to your child’s future and important for your own peace of mind to seek assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney to create a will, have a plan, and to appoint a guardian for your child in the event that you are no longer able to care for your child.
Although as a young adult you may not foresee anything happening to you that would require a need for estate planning, estate planning as a young adult is necessary so that your estate and affairs are handled how you would prefer in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.
The information included here is for informational purposes only, is not exhaustive of all considerations when creating documents, is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be relied upon for that purpose. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney and do not attempt to create your own documents.