No one under 30 thinks they need an estate plan, but they are wrong. Anyone over the age of 18 is a legal adult, and—as such—the individual’s parents have no legal rights if the young adult becomes ill or incapacitated. Investment News’ article, “The most important part of a young person's estate plan,” explains that legal documents typically associated with older or wealthier people can provide a solution.
One of the most important is establishing a medical power of attorney. Every adult who’s over 18 years old should have one. When a child is younger than 18, parents and guardians are able to make medical decisions for them. However, becoming an adult severs those parental and guardianship rights.
If there would be a medical emergency where a young adult is incapacitated and unable to make a decision regarding treatment, parents may have trouble accessing medical records or making health care decisions without a durable power of attorney for health care. Without a power of attorney, a judge may decide who the agent is.
Recently, Anton Yelchin, a 27-year-old actor in the new “Star Trek” films, died without a will. His parents needed to petition the Los Angeles Superior Court to be administrators of their son's $1.4 million estate.
At minimum, young adults should have a power of attorney for health care and a POA for financial assets. The financial POA says who can access financial accounts—like a 401(k) and an IRA.
Signing a POA lets a trusted person have a voice ahead of time. Also, a will is critical when a person becomes a parent. If both parents died, a court would have to determine a legal guardian for a child who is a minor. This is far too important to leave up to chance.
Parents of any age, even if they are young and have little or no assets, need a will to protect their minor children. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to prepare the necessary documents.
Creating health care directives and a financial Power of Attorney can be a great graduation present for a child who is leaving the state or country to go to college or start their career. Many of our clients engage our firm to create these necessary documents for their children because we are familiar with their family. If you need these basic documents for your children, please call our office today to speak with an Attorney. (413) 527-0517
Reference: Investment News (August 3, 2016) “The most important part of a young person's estate plan”