Basic Estate Planning for Young People

If you’re a young adult, you are probably not giving a lot of thought to planning for incapacity or death. After all, that’s for down the road–hopefully way down the road. However, as NBC News points out, even young adults can benefit from some basic estate planning. That’s because once you reach 18 in Missouri, you have the power to make many decisions, including healthcare decisions, for yourself. Likewise, your parents lose the ability to make those decisions on your behalf when you reach 18. Hopefully, you’ll never be in a situation where a catastrophe occurs and you’ll need someone to make health care decisions for you, but it’s relatively easy to guard against that risk.

So what should the young adult consider?

  • A durable power of attorney for health care decisions and a health care directive. This appoints someone to make health care decisions on your behalf and makes some key decisions ahead of time.
  • A HIPAA authorization. In many cases, federal law requires that your health information be kept private. A HIPAA authorization allows the release of that information to people you want to have access to it.
  • A durable power of attorney for financial decisions. As the NBC article points out, this might be useful even outside of situations involving incapacity, but could be useful for any situation where you’re away for an extended period of time (studying abroad, for instance)
  • A will. Most young people may not have dependents or a lot of assets, but may want to make sure that items are distributed in a particular way. It’s worth reviewing your assets and liabilities and the intestacy laws to make a decision about whether to proceed with a will and how complex that will should be.

As young people reach adulthood, planning for life’s events, including the end of life, is part of the deal. As you get older, you’ll probably find that your needs and desires for your estate plan will change, and making a plan and updating it as needed is part of taking control over your life.



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