Amy F. Peters
Estate Planning for
Turning 18 and graduating from high school can feel like a momentous achievement — and it is! Many young adults are heading off to college or thinking about what their next steps in life will be. It’s a time filled with hope, excitement, and maybe a bit of anxiety as well. You’re on your own and in charge of your decisions, your education — and your financial choices. While it may feel way too soon to start thinking about things like wills and trusts, there are good reasons not to discount proactive estate planning even as a young adult. In fact, adults aged 18-34 are now more likely than middle-aged Americans to have a will.
You don’t have to be old or have a lot of money to consider estate planning. Simply put, it’s just about deciding what you want to happen with your assets after you die, and making sure you don’t leave your family and friends — or a judge — with the burden of deciding what they think you would have wanted. For practical advice and direction for what your estate plan should look like, call me at the Estate Preservation Group in Carlsbad, California today.
At What Age Should Someone Consider Having an Estate Plan?
People as young as 18 can create an estate plan since, under the eyes of the law, they are now considered adults and their parents don’t make their healthcare and financial decisions. Certainly, by the time you’re in your 20’s and 30’s, you should have a plan in place.
Moving out of your parents’ house, getting married, buying property, or having children are all major reasons you need some sort of estate plan to allocate your assets and name the person who will make decisions on your behalf. The nice thing about starting so early is that it’s usually a fairly straightforward process since most young people don’t have many assets. This offers a great opportunity to get a plan in place that you can add to and revise as your life becomes more complex.
Why Should Young Adults Have Estate Plans?
There are several reasons a young adult may want to consider creating an estate plan:
- If you live with (or own a home with) a partner but aren’t married, you can ensure that your assets go to them.
- You can grant powers of attorney to someone you trust should you pass away or become unable to speak for yourself.
- You may have more assets than you realize (a car, jewelry, or family heirlooms).
- If you have a child, you should definitely start planning to ensure that they’re financially secure and so you can name their future guardian. If you don’t write out your wishes in an official document, it will be up to the court to decide who gets guardianship and they may not have the same values or parenting style as you. (You can do this for your pets too!)
- If you do have a significant amount of assets, setting them up as part of a living trust can save your family and heirs the hassle (and cost) of going through probate.
Important Elements of a Young Adult’s Estate Plan
- Will: A standard will is the backbone of any estate plan, but it doesn't do all you need it to and wills have to go through probate regardless.
- Living Will/Advanced Healthcare Directive: These documents can ensure someone you know and trust will make medical decisions for you should you become unable to do so yourself.
- Living Trust: A living trust works in the same manner as a will, but it avoids the lengthy probate process by transferring ownership of your assets into a trust so it won’t have to go through the courts.
- Life Insurance: A simple life insurance plan (which is incredibly affordable for young people) can help to pay off debts like car loans or private education loans.
Get the Experienced Legal Support You Need
Whether you’re helping your adult-age children navigate their own estate planning or are working by yourself, you need an experienced estate planning attorney to draw up the paperwork and ensure that it’s all comprehensive and legally binding. If you and your family are in the North County, Oceanside, or Carlsbad, California areas, contact me at the Estate Preservation Group today.