We have previously discussed the fact that all parents and anyone with substantial assets or income should draft a will as soon as possible, if these individuals have not already drafted one. However, naming potential guardians for minor children and outlining how one’s assets will be distributed upon one’s death are not the only urgent reasons why an individual should engage in estate planning. Every adult, including young adults and college students, should ideally have a few key estate planning documents drafted.
When minors reach the majority age of 18, they become entitled to make their own legal decisions. As a result, the parents of young adults are no longer legally entitled to have access to their children’s financial records nor are they entitled to make medical and financial decisions on their children’s behalf. Therefore, it is imperative that young adults draft advanced health care directives and other key estate planning documents in order to make their wishes known.
Many young adults will opt to allow their parents to make medical and financial decisions for them in the event of incapacitation or impending death. However, others will prefer to grant this authority to someone other than their parents. Without a legally binding estate plan in place, a court may have to decide who will be allowed to make these decisions.
Adulthood inevitably results in new responsibilities. Making important decisions about end-of-life care is one of these responsibilities. For better and for worse, even very young adults need to think about drafting certain elements of an estate plan as soon as they come of age.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Why Your College-Age Children Need an Estate Plan," Anne Tergesen, Sep. 21, 2013