Young adults have their whole lives ahead of them, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't begin estate planning as soon as possible.
When someone turns 18, they legally become an adult. Overnight, parents lose the legal authority they previously had over their children's lives. As much as this is a rite of passage for young adults, it can also lead to legal complications should tragedy befall them without an estate plan in place.
Although it may be unimaginable to consider a time when you or your young adult child need to put their estate plan into action, it's nonetheless important to have one. We'll discuss some of the reasons why this is below, but rest assured that our experienced estate planning attorney can help you create an effective estate plan.
It's Not Too Soon for a Young Adult to Have an Estate Plan
It's never too soon for anyone to have an estate plan. In fact, everyone should have one for the same underlying reason: We don't know what the future holds. Some people may live long lives before their estate plan ever becomes relevant, and some people may live much shorter lives.
Accidents and illnesses can happen at any time in a person's life, and young adults are anything but immune to these. They may even be at greater risk of certain life-threatening illnesses or injuries as they become acquainted with their new rights and freedoms as adults.
Parents Lose Access to a Young Adult Child's Medical Records
As young adults acquire new rights and privileges when they turn 18, their parents lose some. One of the rights parents lose is the right to access their child's medical records and make healthcare decisions on their behalf.
A young adult's estate plan can address this with an advance healthcare directive, but not enough people ages 18-24 have one. Many parents incorrectly assume they can continue to make healthcare decisions for their young adult children, especially in the event of a tragedy. Without previous arrangements, parents would have to seek authorization from a judge before acting as a young adult child's healthcare proxy.
Avoiding this legal hurdle is possible, though. Once a child turns 18, they must sign a HIPAA authorization if they wish their parents to retain access to their medical information and make healthcare decisions for them during incapacity.
Young Adults Need Wills Even If They Don't Have Wealth Yet
A young adult may not yet need a trust, but a will is an important estate planning document to have regardless of one's level of wealth. If a young adult unexpectedly dies, they still have an estate – no matter how small – that may have to go through probate.
A will can help to streamline the probate process by avoiding intestate succession, which can be more costly and time-consuming for grieving relatives to undergo. It can also allow the young adult to decide how they wish to distribute whatever assets and property they do have among their relatives and friends.
If a young adult has any minor children, it's even more important to have a will. If a minor child doesn't have another parent in their life who can take custody, the young adult can name preferred legal guardians in their will.
Consider Building an Estate Plan – We Can Help!
If you're a parent of a young adult, talk to them about the importance of having an estate plan. They may not realize how significant the arrangements they can make for the future may be. If you are a young adult, it's crucial to have an estate plan, and you can customize yours to align with your wishes.
The Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC can guide families and individuals through the estate planning process. As an experienced estate planning lawyer, attorney Maria N. Jonsson has the insight and legal skill necessary to help any young adult create a plan for the future.
Learn more during a consultation with us! Contact The Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC for more information and to schedule your next appointment.