College and early stages of career development aren’t typically when people think about the end of their lives. After all, everything for them is just beginning. However, even a freshman in college and someone with their first real job needs an estate plan.
Contrary to popular opinion, estate planning isn’t just for those with children and a lot of personal property. Although estate planning often involves allocating property to different family members, it also creates potent protections for situations where your health and finances may be at risk.
Living wills and advanced health directives are the real reason why new adults need to think about estate planning.
There is no one with the authority to help you otherwise
If you just moved away to college, you have long had your parents there to oversee and coordinate your finances and health needs. However, their legal authority to do so ended when you turned 18.
Now that you are a legal adult, your parents cannot access your medical records or make decisions about your medical care. You have to create documents to empower people if you want someone to speak on your behalf.
Incapacitation could happen for many reasons
Illness or chemical exposure could lead to a coma. A car accident can cause a brain injury. Unconsciousness, the inability to communicate or a loss of mental capacity will prevent you from acting on your own behalf.
You can create an estate plan that protects you after a medical emergency. Powers of attorney and privacy paperwork can give someone you trust, like a sibling or a parent, access to your medical records and the right to speak on your behalf. An advance medical directive will explain your preferences on issues ranging from life-support to anatomical gifts.
Estate planning is best when you start early and update regularly
The whole point of estate planning is to protect yourself and the people dependent on you when the unexpected occurs.
Creating documents that protect you can be beneficial even as soon as right after your 18th birthday. As your family circumstances and financial situation change, you can add more documents to your estate plan or adjust the people whom you designate to make decisions or receive your property.
Thinking about the unexpected can help you see the value in estate planning at any stage of your life.