Becoming an adult comes with a great many responsibilities, and it also changes how you’re treated under the law. Eighteen candles means your parents, or whomever is legally responsible for your care as a minor, are no longer the default responsible parties when it comes to making decisions about your health care and finances. Should there come a time when you are not be able to make these important decisions for yourself, these decisions about your life could be left to the courts to decide.
To avoid confusion and ensure your affairs will be handled just as you want, there are three important documents all young adults can and should have:
- Durable Power of Attorney: This document ensures your parents or whomever you choose have access to your financial information and other important information such as school records. You can decide if you want that power to take effect immediately, which would allow your appointee (also called your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) to assist with financial matters upon the signing of the power of attorney or you can choose to have the power of attorney take effect only if you become incapacitated. This document will ensure your appointee can access your financial accounts, pay your bills and handle any school financial aid issues on your behalf.
- Advanced Health Care Directive: An advanced health care directive, also sometimes called a Living Will, includes instructions on how you want your health care handled if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. It should include the appointment of a health care proxy to make those decisions on your behalf. It can include a Do Not Resuscitate order and other instructions. A health care directive should also include a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release to allow medical professionals to share your medical information with your health care proxy.
- Will: Not many 18-year-olds have amassed great estates, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have valuables that you want to ensure are distributed as you’d like should you die. You may also include naming beneficiaries that would inherit items that have emotional or sentimental value.
Talking about death is uncomfortable at any age and no one — especially young people — wants to consider the possibility of an unexpected death or catastrophic injuries. But we know they do happen. Part of growing up is being mature and realistic about life and its challenges, and being ready to tackle all of them.
We’re here to help people of all ages feel secure and ready with estate planning that meets their needs, wherever they are. You can download our free Estate Planning Checklist to get started and then call us at 856.782.8450 so we can help create an estate plan for you or your child.