OC Elder Law
What Young Adults Should Know About Estate Planning
When you hear the term ‘estate planning’, most people think it implies end-of-life planning, but legally, that is not the case. When a person reaches 18 years of age, they are considered an adult under the eyes of the law. Consulting with an estate planning attorney in Orange County or Corona is the ideal way to get things in place and decide which documents are most relevant for you and your family.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney means that you can appoint a trusted individual, like a family member, to make important financial decisions on your behalf. This is activated when you are unable to make your own decisions. The person appointed to act on your behalf is known as ‘attorney in fact’, and that person can handle financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so, like if you are away at college or traveling. This is an important document to have in place as for some legal issues, time is of the essence, and if you are not available for whatever reason, a trusted individual like a parent, can act on your behalf and in your best interest.
A Living Will
Also known as a health care directive, a living will allows you to document your wishes regarding medical intervention if you are unable to communicate them yourself at the time. This applies to issues like artificial life support, or cases of coma, or vegetative states. This is an important document to have in place to ensure that your wishes as to what you consider living are followed through, even if you can’t communicate them.
Health Care Power of Attorney
With this document, you can allow a trusted individual to make important health-related decisions on your behalf. In these instances, the ‘attorney in fact’, has the power to make crucial decisions based on your wishes that you have communicated to them. These types of emotional circumstances include life support and life-ending scenarios.
From a parent’s perspective, if a child is in an accident while away at college and is unresponsive and kept alive via respirator, if the parent has been appointed as their child’s ‘health proxy’, they have the rights to pertinent information about their child’s health, as well as important end-of-life or medical-intervention decisions.
Obviously, this is an important aspect of estate planning for young people as without it, geography and legal red tape can prevent an important person in your life, such as your parents, from having the power to represent your wishes.
While no one really wants to entertain the possibility of situations like these happening, the reality is that they do happen. Having documents like a financial power of attorney, a living will, and health care power of attorney drawn up before you depart on your next stage of life as a student or adult is a mature and responsible step to take. Not only can these documents protect your own wishes, they also can save your loved ones a lot of added time, money, and stress during already potentially devastating times.