For many people, the term estate planning makes them think of older adults, those with valuable personal assets and those with dependent family members. It is certainly commonplace for some people to wait to put together testamentary paperwork until they get married or have children. Unfortunately, many people delay so long that they end up dying or having medical emergencies without any protective paperwork on record.
Oftentimes, even those who think they do not require any sort of formal estate plan could actually benefit from the creation of specific documents. For example, 18-year-olds are at the very beginning of their adult lives, which often means that they expect to have many decades of life ahead of them. Although many young adults might quickly dismiss the idea that they need an estate plan, the truth is that they are more vulnerable than they realize.
New adults are at risk of unexpected emergencies
When someone goes away to college, they might end up binge drinking and falling ill as a result. Someone just beginning their professional career could experience a car crash that leaves them with debilitating injuries. Young adults could find themselves hospitalized for many different reasons, and many of those circumstances could leave them unable to communicate with others or lacking the legal capacity to act on their own behalf. Therefore, estate planning paperwork is important for new adults because it can protect them against the risks of incapacitation.
If they end up with diminished cognitive ability or in a coma, advance planning could make all the difference. Young adults would likely benefit from having an advance directive that talks about their specific treatment wishes. They will also likely need to have medical power of attorney granting someone that they trust the authority to make choices on their behalf and the right to access their medical records, as their parents can no longer do so.
New adults who have financial obligations, such as rent or credit cards, may also need financial powers of attorney that will empower someone to manage their accounts and obligations in the event of an emergency. Those of any age with dependent family members or significant personal assets may very well need to create testamentary documents as well to address the protection of their loved ones and what will happen with their property.
Recognizing why even those who have just finished high school or left home for the first time might need an estate plan could help someone more effectively protect themselves against whatever life brings them.