Many young adults think that estate planning is something that only older folks with lots of financial assets need to do. The fact is that every adult, regardless of age, should have an estate plan.
A complete estate plan does much more than distribute property after death. It protects you in the event of unexpected contingencies during your life as well. As the Covid-19 pandemic tragically illustrates, even healthy young adults can face unanticipated events that change their lives. An estate plan addresses the difficulties that can ensue if an accident or medical emergency occurs without warning.
Whether you are married without children, married with children, or are single, your estate plan ensures that you have necessary legal documents in place to protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what happens in the future. You also may have assets that you don’t realize need protection.
While it’s not easy to consider what might happen if you are in an accident or have a medical emergency, planning for that type of contingency is a much better approach than simply assuming or hoping everything will turn out fine if that possibility becomes reality. Documents in your estate plan make certain that if anything does happen to you, a person you choose will be able to tend to your finances and make medical and health care decisions for you. Without those documents, your loved ones may face challenging circumstances that require court intervention to resolve.
Durable powers of attorney are part of every estate plan. In Arizona, three different POAs are necessary. They ensure that someone has legal authority to act on your behalf if anything happens that makes you unable to make decisions or take actions yourself.
In your durable financial power of attorney, you designate an trusted individual as your agent to handle your finances if you become unable to do so, even temporarily. Your agent can pay your bills, transfer money between bank accounts, and do everything else that you normally take care of yourself.
Your durable health care or medical power of attorney and durable mental health care power of attorney authorize an individual you designate to make health care, medical, and mental health decisions on your behalf, if you are not able to make those decisions yourself. Along with the medical and mental health POAs, you can communicate your wishes concerning health care, to make sure your designated agents knows your preferences and can communicate them to medical professionals. Collectively, these documents are often called an advance directive or health care directive.
If you do not have these documents in place before something happens that makes you unable to act on your own behalf, your loved ones must ask a judge to appoint a guardian and conservator for you. Not only do the court proceedings cost money, but they consume valuable time at a point where every moment wasted can make a difference in your life.
Even if you don’t have substantial financial assets, your estate plan protects your loved ones if anything happens to you in the future. Especially if you have minor children, you want to protect them as much as you can. You need to make sure they receive proper care and guidance if anything happens to you. Creating an estate plan with assistance from a knowledgeable attorney is the best way to do that.
For young adults in a blended family, which is one that includes children with natural parents other than the two spouses (often children from a previous marriage), an estate plan is particularly important. But even if you are single or married without children, estate planning is an essential part of planning for the future. And in any circumstances, an estate plan is critical if you own a business.
Financial assets are not the only type of asset that an estate plan protects. Increasingly — and especially for young adults — protecting digital assets is essential for everyone. If you own any type of electronic device, you probably own digital assets. In fact, young adults typically own more digital assets than do older adults.
Your digital assets probably include a lot more than you realize. Protecting them and making sure that someone can access them if anything happens to you, even temporarily, is absolutely essential. That’s exactly what your estate plan can do. To learn more about your digital assets and why you need to protect them, please read our blog post, Are Your Digital Assets Covered By Your Estate Plan?
If you are young and don’t own substantial assets, your estate plan likely will be relatively straightforward. But that doesn’t mean you can get the protection you need simply by downloading forms or using an online service.
Every estate plan should be tailored to fit the unique circumstances of the person who creates it. The only way to make certain that your plan fits your goals and needs is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. Using forms or a do-it-yourself (DIY) website creates substantial risks. Worst of all, you might create something you think provides the protection you want and need, when in fact documents you make without a lawyer can be even worse than having nothing at all. Chances are that you won’t even know that until it’s too late to fix them. Please don’t take that chance.
At Peterson Law Offices, our practice includes all aspects of estate planning for individuals and families. Our practice also includes business law, so we can help new and established business owners with the business aspects of their estate plans. We provide top-quality services at affordable prices. We can assist you in creating a new estate plan or revising an existing plan, no matter what your circumstances are.
We welcome inquiries from clients throughout the East Valley, including Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 480-878-5998 or using our online contact form.
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