Before a child turns 18, their parents have a legal right to make decisions for them or access some information about them. However, once that child turns 18, parents lose that right. After a minor becomes an adult, no one can automatically step in and take care of them if they ever have to enter the hospital or become disabled. For a parent to be able to take care of a child who cannot take care of himself or herself, they have to go before a judge and be appointed as guardian or conservator for their child. Many parents do not know this, and that legal shock makes their experience all the harder to bear.
Estate Planning is for Young Adults Too
An estate plan contains legal documents that allow a young adult, who may not own may assets and may not think they need an estate plan, that allows others to take care of them if they are ever incapacitated or disabled. The young adult can name someone they know and trust to make those important medical and financial decisions for them if they are ever unable to do so themselves. Fortunately, an estate plan for young adults is not expensive and is a worth-while investment.
Having these documents in place does not mean that the young adult will ever have to use them, but they will help everyone if they are ever needed.
In the Event of Incapacity
- A Medical Power of Attorney allows someone else to make medical decision for the young adult if the adult cannot make those decisions themselves. These decisions can include surgery, medications, and treatment options.
- A Financial Power of Attorney is similar to a Medical Power of Attorney, but for financial decisions. This helps to ensure that bills are continued to be paid and cuts out the need for court supervision. Once the young adult regains capacity, the Power of Attorney becomes inactive.
- HIPAA Authorizations allow your health care providers (doctors, nurses, hospitals) the ability to discuss the medical situations of the young adult with others, including family members.
In the Event of Death
Because young adults generally do not have a lot of assets during their college years, a will is all that is probably needed. A will allows the young adult to say where they want their assets and belongings to go if they ever passed away. If they do not have a will, Colorado default laws will determine where their belongings will go, which may not be what the adult actually wants.
After the Documents Have Been Signed
The young adult will need to get organized with their estate planning documents. Any individual that the young adult names under the will, power of attorney, etc. need to know where to find the estate planning documents, financial records, and passwords. They need to make it possible for others to find their important information if they are not around. This should also include social media accounts, internet passwords, and any instructions of how to handle confidential information. Lastly, young adults need to realize that their estate plan needs to change as their life changes.