Many have the mistaken idea that estate planning is only for the rich or aging, which leads to many avoid or ignore estate planning for minor children and young adults. In fact, surveys consistently find that an overwhelming majority of young adults do not have any estate planning documents in place. A recent survey found that 41% of young adults ages 18 to 34 have not begun to plan.
You may say this is completely logical because younger people rarely pass away. This may be true, but in a similar manner, very few houses burn to the ground. If you are a homeowner, do you carry fire insurance? Estate planning for minor children and young adults is just as important.
Protect Your Minor Children
If you are the parent of minor children, estateplanning is an absolute must. Even if you haven’t had the time to accumulate alot of resources, there are some bases that you should definitely cover.
People pass away suddenly in accidents every day, andcatastrophic illnesses can strike anyone. It’s a terrible thing to think aboutbut sticking your head in the sand is not a very responsible response.
Who would take care of your children if you were nolonger around? The answer is that it’s entirely up to you. You can do nothingand allow the state to decide on a guardian if it becomes necessary, or you canname a preferred guardian in your last will.
An estate plan for a parent with dependent childrenshould also include an income replacement source. Life insurance is the ideal solution,and term life is quite affordable for people that are relatively young. You canupgrade your coverage as the financial needs of your family increase.
Individual retirement account beneficiary designationsshould be kept up to date at all times as well. If you take the rightprotective steps in advance, you can go forward with peace of mind.
A solid estate plan will include an incapacityplanning component, and advance directives for health care are important piecesto this puzzle. A health care proxy allows you to designate someone to make allhealth care decisions for you if you are unable to do so, including life endingdecisions. You name an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in thisdocument. New York State has chosen this document rather than the living willas the primary healthcare documents.
Another advance directive that we believe should bepart of the plan is a living will in which you can state your choices regardingthe utilization of feeding tubes, artificial hydration, mechanical ventilation,and resuscitation. We suggest thisdocument because it is often gut wrenching for a loved one to determine whetherto keep you on life-support or to take you off it. Having already made these decisions allows yourhealthcare proxy to know your wishes with regard to when to remove you fromlife-support, and, as a result, they can become your advocate rather than anemotional, confused loved one. They canbecome your advocate to allow you to die with dignity.
You can address each respective type of life supportseparately if you have different opinions about each respective procedure. Yourliving will can include your organ and tissue donation choices along with yourcomfort care medication preferences.
A durable power of attorney for property should beincluded to complete the plan. This is a legal device that is used to empowersomeone to handle your financial affairs if it ever becomes necessary. It is called durable because it survives yourbecoming incapacitated and can still be used.
Estate Planning for Young Adults
You may understand why we recommend estate planningfor parents of younger children, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Veryyoung adults that are in their teens and early 20s certainly have time to wait,don’t they?
In fact, this is not true at all. The Health InsurancePortability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents doctors from sharingmedical information with anyone other than the patient. This applies to alladults, even people that are 18 years old, and the family relationship doesn’tmatter.
Medical professionals would not be able to discussyour child’s medical condition with you once they are looked upon as adults inthe eyes of the law.
To account for this, you should encourage your childto develop an incapacity plan that includes a HIPAA release form. Of course,this release is necessary for anyone that is putting an incapacity plan inplace.
Take Action Today!
This type of planning means a lot to us, because alack of preparedness can make a devastating situation that much worse. There isno reason to take any chances when affordable help is just a phone call away.