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Guide to Estate Planning as a Young Adult

Estate planning as a young adult is not as complicated as it may seem. Cherewka Law breaks it down in this easy to follow guide.

Your twenties are a great time to start saving and investing money in order to set yourself up for the future. Building your career is a great way to earn money and become more self-reliant. It’s essential to save for retirement, and put aside money for your later years.

Of course, since it’s not too early to do all that, the same can be said when it comes to estate planning. It may not be very pleasant or even seem relevant at the time, but one thing every young adult should learn is that you can never be too prepared in life.

Estate planning as a young adult is not as complicated as it may seem. In fact, if you can find someone to guide you, it should be easier than you think. To help you get started, here is a guide to estate planning as a young adult:

Healthcare Power of Attorney

It’s important to have a trusted person who can make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. It’s best to choose someone who is close to you and you trust, such as a parent, sibling, or close friend. The Healthcare Power of Attorney will make it easy for this person to access your medical records, and make decisions for you. A healthcare Power of Attorney should be set up while your are healthy.  If you are in the hospital and unable to make decisions for yourself, it is already too late and court intervention may be necessary.  It is also important for college students to have a healthcare power of attorney, or at the very least a HIPPA authorization, so that their parents can contact the health center or local hospital in the event of an illness or injury.

General Power of Attorney

A power of attorney for finances and property, or “Durable General Power of Attorney”, gives another person the legal right to manage your financial and legal affairs.  Most powers of attorney are considered “durable.”  This means that if you become incapacitated or unable to act on your own behalf, the individual you name in the power of attorney will still be able to act.  Most powers of attorney take effect immediately and do not require that you become incapacitated first.  This requirement makes the power of attorney “springing,” but can add some complications and have negative side effects.  When dealing with an already stressful situation, a springing power of attorney requires the agent to prove the incapacity of the person they are helping, usually through an evaluation by a physician which can add delays to the use of the power of attorney.

Will

A will is a legal document that lays out instructions for how property is to be transferred upon your death.  When you are young and have little to no assets, no children, and no spouse, there may not be much reason for a will.  There are, however, many reasons that even a young person in the early or late twenties might need a will.  A few examples are: (1) having a minor child; (2) inheriting a large amount of money or property, or anticipating a large inheritance; and (3) ownership of a business, just to name a few.

There are many other reasons that a young person might need a will, but the best course of action is to set up a meeting with an attorney and determine the right plan for you.  Most often the minimal cost of a will is worth the protection it can provide in the event of an unexpected death.

Living Will

A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that allows you to state your wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment. If you become incapacitated and can’t make your own decisions, this directive allows for your wishes to be carried out. A living will is very simple to prepare and can be useful for your family to know your wishes.

If you do not have a living will someone else may decide whether or not to keep you on indefinite life support.  There have been many famous cases of families disputing for years over whether or not a person should be artificially kept alive, such as the case of Terri Schiavo.  This can cause a lot of problems for family members and loved ones. To avoid any problems and to relieve your family members of the burden of this decision, a living will should be prepared, and may be kept on file with a hospital or with your primary care physician.

How to Get Started

Estate planning might seem like an overwhelming process and is often avoided for that reason, but the truth is that estate planning can be simple and relatively easy to put in place.  Contacting the right estate planning attorney can allow you to put a simple but effective estate plan in place and give you the peace of mind knowing you’re covered in the event of an emergency or tragedy.

If you are looking for a business and estate planning lawyer, we’re here to help you. Cherewka Law is a law office committed to helping our clients protect what’s most important to them. We want to help you achieve your goals through careful planning and practical solutions. To learn more, feel free to contact us.

Jan 18, 2022 | Articles, Estate Planning

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