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Estate Planning for Young Adults

November 16, 2013

A child attaining the age of 18 is a bittersweet moment for many parents, as it signifies a new chapter in both the lives of the child and of the parents. While such a significant milestone can be new and exciting, many parents fail to appreciate is that their child is no longer covered by various laws and protections that were previously vested in the parents.

 

For instance, if a grown child needs medical treatment and is unable to make decisions for themselves, a parent cannot decide for them. Rather, such parent would have to go to court and ask a judge to allow the parent to make health care decisions on the grown child’s behalf. This can be a costly and time-consuming process.

 

For this reason, it is recommended that basic estate planning be done for grown children to allow for their parents (or other trusted individual) to act on the grown child’s behalf in the event of an emergency. We are not talking about wills and trusts (which are also important), but rather other documents that make up an estate plan that a grown child may need. Such documents can provide both the grown child and their parents with a measure of security and peace of mind that they would not otherwise have. Such documents would include:

 

Living Will

A Living Will (also called an Advanced Directive for Surgical/Medical Treatment) expresses the grown child’s wishes about what medical treatment or other care, including treatment or care relating to end-of-life acre, he or she would or would not want if they become incapacitated or are too sick to speak for themselves. Such Living Will can be subject to a Medical Durable Power of Attorney (discussed below).

 

Medical Durable Power of Attorney

A Medical Durable Power of Attorney allows a grown child to appoint an individual as his or her agent, giving that individual the power to handle the grown child’s medical affairs when they are unable to do so for themselves. We generally recommend that such power be springing; that is, not taking effect until such time the grown child is no longer capable, for whatever reason, of managing their own affairs.

 

HIPAA Release

This allows the named person to talk to a grown child’s doctors and get information about their health.

 

General Durable Power of Attorney

This gives a grown child’s agent authority (as defined therein) to handle financial or legal matters on the grown child’s behalf. The agent can take care of the grown child’s banking, bills, and even file a lawsuit if needed. We generally recommend that such powers may be springing, that is, they will not take effect until such time as the grown child is Estate planning in a blended family situation can be complicated as such situations may involve three sets of children (children from husband’s prior marriage, children from wife’s prior marriage, and children born to the current marriage) and spouses with different priorities and interests. Despite this added layer of complexity, an estate plan in a blended family context is important as it can provide the following protections:

  • A spouses own children will inherit the money they came into the second marriage with;

  • One’s current spouse will be provided for;

  • One’s ex-spouse(s) will not inherit any of the spouses money;

  • One can minimize estate taxes and costs of probate; and

  • A spouse can protect beneficiaries from the risk of losing governmental benefits.

Please be advised that pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements may also provide certain protections in the event of a marriage or remarriage. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you would like our assistance with the preparation of your estate planning documents.

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