As a young adult, you’re now independent both in your life and legally. One of those legal areas is estate planning. We know this is an overwhelming topic so we’ll break it down for you in simple terms.
This guide to estate planning for young adults is also suitable for parents of young adults looking to help their kids take the right steps.
What is Estate Planning?
- Estate planning is the process of making plans for what should happen to you if you die or if you can no longer make decisions on your own (such as if you have a serious accident).
- By making an estate plan, you will have legally binding documents in place to determine what happens to your money and assets and your health care decisions.
- It can also be used to protect your assets from creditors.
- You can also put instructions in place that should be followed.
- It is an ongoing process but should be started as soon as possible.
Why Do I Need to Think of Estate Planning as a Young Adult?
It’s a fair question to wonder, “Why on earth do I need to plan for my death when I’m 18?”
Well, firstly, estate planning is not just about death. It’s also about planning for accidents or giving people the authority to handle your affairs if you’re unable to.
Secondly, we hate to say it but, accidents happen. By having an estate plan you can answer questions such as:
- What should happen to the things you own and your money after you die?
- Who should decide what happens to you if you’re incapacitated (such as in a coma)?
- What should happen to your pets if you die or are seriously injured?
- Are your assets protected from creditors?
Alright, enough of the worrying. Let’s look at what you can now achieve through estate planning as an adult!
- A ‘Last Will and Testament’ (usually referred to as just a ‘will’), is a legally binding document.
- It details what you want to happen to your assets, money and personal items after your death.
- It can also be used to list instructions for your death, such as how you’d like to be buried or cremated.
Do I Need a Will?
Every adult is advised to make a will, regardless of age. Without one, you have no control over what happens to your assets and money after you die. However, it’s even more important that you create a will if you:
- Are a parent
- Have a disabled child
- Are married
- Have a complicated or high-value estate
- Own a pet
- Own multiple assets or properties
What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
If someone dies without a will, then their estate will be distributed per the probate court and Florida intestate succession laws, which may be contrary to your wishes.
How Do I Create a Will?
- Wills are complex and you should think twice before you try drafting your own will.
- Some points to consider for your will:
- Who you’d like to receive your assets and money if you pass away (you can put % shares).
- Who you would like to be in charge of the distribution and administration of the will (this person is called the ‘personal representative’).
- It must be signed in the presence of at least two competent witnesses.
- It must be signed by the witnesses, each in the presence of the creator and the other witnesses.
- It must be drafted and signed free and voluntarily, not under the influence of improper persuasion of someone else.
- You can work with a Florida will attorney if you need assistance.
Read Related: Frequently Asked Questions About Wills
Your Digital Accounts
- If you pass away or become incapacitated, what will happen to your social media accounts or digital currencies?
- It’s illegal for someone to make unauthorized access to these accounts, per Florida’s 2016 laws.
- You can state in your will what you’d like to happen, or;
- Appoint a power of attorney and list the permission in your power of attorney documents.
Health Care Proxy
Medical considerations are arguably the most important part of a young adult’s estate plan. Death will hopefully be many decades away, but accidents and illness can strike at any moment.
Now that you’re 18, you are now legally supposed to be medically independent. That means your medical records are kept confidential from your parents. And they no longer have the same power over making medical decisions on your behalf.
If you don’t like the sound of that, you can appoint a healthcare proxy. This can be your parents, or it can be someone else who you trust deeply.
- To do this, you will need a ‘Medical Power of Attorney’ document, or ‘advance directive’.
- These documents should appoint a highly trusted and responsible individual who can make decisions about your health if you’re sick or incapacitated.
- Including HIPAA provisions with this document authorizes the individual to access medical records and medical information.
- In these advance directives, you can list your medical preferences such as:
- End-of-life preferences
- Life support preferences
- Medication and treatment directives.
- Having these in place can reduce the burden placed on loved ones in medical dilemmas.
- You should think very carefully about these decisions and consider consulting an estate planning lawyer.
- Now you’re 18, your parents also no longer have automatic access to your bank accounts or credit cards.
- You can appoint a ‘A durable power of attorney’, who gains the authority to make financial decisions if you can’t anymore.
- This includes bank accounts, lines of credit, bills and rental agreements.
- It can be useful for:
- Severe injuries
- Mental conditions
- If you’re traveling out of the country and are unable to access your financial accounts when needed.
What Other Estate Plan Topics to Consider in The Future?
As you get older, your family, assets and wealth will change. With it, will come the demands to make more advanced estate planning. Such as:
- Asset protection
- Planning for your children
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Riverview and St. Petersburg
If you or your child need assistance with estate planning in Florida, then our Florida estate planning lawyers can help.
We regularly help young adults like you to draft wills, and health care proxy documents and provide overall advice.
We welcome you to contact our Florida estate planning attorneys today if you have any questions or wish to get started.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With Award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you create an estate plan that protects your rights and wishes.