A common misconception in years past was that only seniors needed an estate plan. However, there are many benefits to encourage young people to have an estate plan in place, too. The rationale behind having an estate plan is to ensure that someone has the ability to care for you and your responsibilities in a time of need or upon your death. Young adults are not immune from incapacity or death, which is why it is important for them to have an estate plan in place. There are several documents involved in creating a proper estate plan, and although a full estate plan can be created at any time, a few documents are suggested, over others, for young adults. Estate plans can and should be reviewed and updated over time, therefore, there is no downfall in creating these documents early on.
Two documents created for all estate plans are a financial power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney. Both powers of attorney allow an individual to appoint someone to take care of their financial responsibilities or healthcare decisions if they are unable to do so for themselves. Having these documents in place ensures the person you want to have these responsibilities has them and not someone the court would appoint for you.
Another important document to have in place when you are creating an estate plan, especially for young parents, is a will. The main reason to have a will is to appoint the person you wish to distribute your estate upon your death and to leave specific instructions on how, and to whom, your estate should be distributed. However, a will can also have a guardianship provision to instruct the court on who to appoint as guardian of your children if you should pass before your child reaches the age of majority.
This article does not describe all of the documents available to create a custom estate plan, but rather emphasizes the documents that are more commonly used when creating an estate plan for young adults.
Sharon A. Burgess, Danelle E. Harrington, and Katelyn A. Sweeney practice in the areas of probate/estate planning, long term care planning and elder law, and business and real estate transactions at SMITH BOVILL, P.C. Their articles are intended to introduce various issues arising within this field of practice and are not intended to replace individual legal advice. If you have questions, please contact Sharon, Danelle, or Katelyn at one of the firm’s two convenient office locations in Frankenmuth and Saginaw.