Estate Planning for Young Adults
Most young adults don’t think about estate planning, especially if they are not married yet or do not have children. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the importance of estate planning, and now many young adults are finally realizing that estate planning may not be such a bad idea. Regardless of your age at the time of beginning the estate planning process, there are always good reasons to consider drafting a will, creating a trust, or creating an advance healthcare directive, among other steps.
Estate planning is complicated. If you are a young adult who is curious about estate planning, consider working with an experienced attorney who can provide you with all of the tools you need to make informed decisions about your future. At the Law Office of Robert L. Firth, we understand that thinking about the future (especially death) is not a topic most young adults want to discuss. Rather than fear the process, find out how estate planning can eliminate uncertainty and stress down the line.
Serving Cathedral City, California, as well as Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, and throughout the Coachella Valley, our team at the Law Office of Robert L. Firth is ready to help you craft the best estate plan for your situation.
At What Age Should Someone Consider Having an Estate Plan?
Estate planning can begin as early as age 18. While most 18-year-olds do not have assets to distribute and children to think about (although there are exceptions), there are still estate planning tools that can be immensely helpful that have nothing to do with assets and children. Estate plans can be modified as a person ages.
As such, starting the estate planning process once a person reaches adulthood is ideal, but because most 18-year-olds do not have an estate plan, young adults should — at a minimum — consider beginning the estate planning process once they graduate from college, purchase a home, get married, and/or have children. Once assets and children are in the mix, after-death matters can become complicated very quickly.
Why Should a Young Adult Have an Estate Plan?
A young adult should have an estate plan because anything can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of their age. The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect example for healthy young adults who became severely ill, incapacitated, or even passed away from a virus that appeared out of nowhere.
Setting property and assets aside, one of the most important reasons why a young adult should have an estate plan is to ensure parents of a young adult have some powers in the event their child is unable to act on their own behalf. For instance, if a college student is in a car accident, their parents will want to know what is going on and may want some decision-making powers.
Unless the adult child has signed a durable power of attorney that gives authority to parents to access information about a child’s medical condition, and make decisions on behalf of the adult child, parents may be left in the dark and at the mercy of state law.
Important Elements of a Young Adult’s Estate Plan
A young adult’s estate plan does not need to be elaborate, and an estate plan can be modified every few years as a person’s life evolves. For example, once a young adult gets married, purchases a home, or has children, his or her estate plan will need to be modified to account for these new life changes. At a minimum, young adults should consider including the following in their estate plan:
Durable Power of Attorney (POA) — A young adult should sign a durable power of attorney that allows another person (such as a parent, another family member, or significant other), to make financial and/or medical decisions on the young adult’s behalf in the event the young adult becomes incapacitated. The person designated as the agent with decision-making powers may be the same person for both a financial and medical power of attorney, or the young adult may designate a different person to have POA over each issue.
Living Will (Advance Healthcare Directive) — A living will often goes along with a healthcare durable power of attorney. A living will does not give another person authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated person, but rather identifies the individual’s wishes in the event he or she needs life-saving support, artificial feeding, or any other medical treatment that concerns a potential life or death situation in which one is unable to express their wishes verbally.
Last Will and Testament — A will is the primary estate planning tool that most people are familiar with. As a young adult, a will is not going to identify the same information as a will for a person with assets and children, but a will can still document a young adult’s wishes as they stand at the time the will is written. A will can be modified over time.
Revocable Trust — A trust is a way to hold property or assets for the benefit of another so that the property or assets pass automatically upon death. A trust can prevent the need for probate, which is often a headache for loved ones.
Turn to an Estate Planning Attorney for Help
Because estate planning can be stressful, confusing, and create a feeling of uncertainty, young adults would be wise to consider speaking with an estate planning attorney (with or without the help of parents if the young adult has just reached the age of adulthood). By allowing an estate planning attorney to help, a young adult will receive guidance, have a better understanding of how the process works, and will have peace of mind that all estate planning documents have been created with the help of a legal professional.
Estate Planning Attorney Serving Cathedral City, California
If you are ready to start the estate planning process, call us at the Law Office of Robert L. Firth. Serving clients in Cathedral City, California, as well as Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, and throughout the Coachella Valley, we serve a wide range of clients. Reach out to us today to schedule your initial consultation.