Estate planning attorneys and financial planners, it seems, are always encouraging people to get an estate plan in place and to regularly update it. Most of us know this is good advice, and that the sooner we get around to it, the more peace of mind we’ll have. But when do we do it? When is a good time to actually buckle down and get a plan in place?
The answer to the question is obviously dictated by individual circumstances, but it is well to consider that as soon as a person reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in most states, their parents are no longer able to view their medical records or handle their financial issues, nor to make decisions for them. Because of the shift that happens legally, the age of majority is not a bad time for anybody to consider getting some basic documents in place, regardless of how many assets they own.
Most parents are all too aware that their children are not concerned with estate planning matters at the age of 18, but this is precisely why it is well for parents to encourage their young adult children to claim that independence by taking some responsibility.
What documents are commended for a young adult just getting into estate planning? Individual needs will vary, but some important ones are: advance health care directive; HIPPA release; financial power of attorney; perhaps a will. Of course, some young adults may not be comfortable with giving their parents access to their life than they already have, but getting some basic documents in place is the most important step. If a young adult is open to it, is can be quite helpful for them to work with an estate planning attorney to determine what documents to include and other actions appropriate to their situation.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Why Your College-Age Children Need an Estate Plan,” Anne Tergesen, September 21, 2013.