When some people in Saint Paul think of estate planning, they imagine an elderly person, wrinkled and frail, dictating to an attorney what their last wishes are. However, since death is no respecter of age, it is best for even young people to be prepared for the inevitable through estate planning.

For example, while parents are authorized to take care of all financial and health care issues for their minor child, once that child turns 18, they are considered adults and have the exclusive right to manage their own financial and health care affairs. If they do not have an estate plan and become incapacitated due to an illness or injury, parents might not be able to obtain medical information on their adult child due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules. However, if a young adult designates their parents as the decision makers in their health care and financial powers of attorney, then the parents can make these important decisions if their adult child no longer has the capacity to do so.

Newlyweds should also consider estate planning. Just because you have a spouse doesn’t automatically mean that your spouse will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This authority must be granted through a trust or power of attorney. Moreover, without a will, if one spouse passes away, the estate will pass through probate, costing time and money.

Another subset of society that needs to have an estate plan is young parents. After all, if they should both die before their child is 18, a guardian will need to be appointed for the child. If there is no estate plan, the court will choose a guardian. And, if there aren’t any relatives to take the child in, the child will be considered to be an orphan and will be placed in foster care. However, through executing a parental appointment of a guardian, parents can choose who will be guardian of their child if they both pass away before the child is grown.

As this shows, estate planning is not just for those on their death beds. It is for everyone, young and old. With the right help, young people in Saint Paul can execute an estate plan that meets their wishes.

Source: The Times Herald, “Who needs estate planning?,” Matthew M. Wallace, Aug. 18, 2017

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