Estate Planning for Young Adults

Estate planning is the process of working with an attorney to create a plan to manage and protect your assets in the event of your incapacity or death. Often, estate planning is postponed until later in life, when people have acquired more assets, have children, or are working towards retirement, however, estate planning can benefit people of all ages, including young adults. Planning for the unexpected, and having estate planning documents in place, can save time, money, and stress, for families experiencing an unexpected loss or incapacitation event. There are three essential documents all adults should have in place:

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that establishes who will attend to your financial and related decisions in the unfortunate event of your incapacity. This document allows your attorney-in-fact (the person you named) to handle your affairs without formal probate proceedings, thereby saving expense, emotion, and court involvement. Your attorney-in-fact will have the authority to make gifts, pay your bills, and attend to all of your financial-related affairs. This document can be invaluable in the event of a young adult becoming incapacitated but can also be used by a parent or guardian to help college students manage finances and pay bills.

Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy is a document that nominates a healthcare agent who will ensure your medical decisions are carried out in accordance with your intentions in the event that you become mentally or physically disabled. A Health Care Proxy also allows your health care agent to communicate with your doctors and retrieve your medical records. As long as you are competent, you retain the right to make decisions relative to your own health care. Every adult should have a healthcare proxy, but this document is often overlooked by young adults.

Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament provides for the ultimate disposition of any assets that you hold in your name alone or do not have a named beneficiary (or the beneficiary that is named predeceases you).  When establishing a Will, you must name a Personal Representative (formerly called “executor”), who will be responsible for carrying out your estate.  Any assets with joint owners, beneficiary designations, or that are held in trust are not subject to probate. Meeting with an attorney who can complete an analysis of your assets and help you determine the appropriate methods of disposition of assets is another benefit of estate planning that can save time, money, and stress for family members.

Written By: Attorney Amanda R. Carpe, and Law Clerk Nicholas T. Kubacki

Nicholas Kubacki