The vast majority of American adults that are under the age of 65 do not have estate plans in place. Obviously, people usually do not pass away before their time, but it does happen. Estate planning should be looked upon as a basic responsibility of adulthood, and everyone should have a plan in place.
It is important across the board, but it is absolutely essential as soon as you have people relying on you for monetary support to one extent or another. You should have an income replacement solution in the form of life insurance, and if you have children, you should address the matter of guardianship.
Granted, very young adults who are not parents may not have to be too concerned about passing along assets they do not have. At the same time, planning is still necessary for a very important reason, and we will share the details here.
Before we get into the young adult aspect, we should explain the importance of incapacity planning in a general sense.
A well-constructed estate plan for someone of any age will include certain documents that account for issues that can present themselves at some point.
Many people, particularly elders, become unable to communicate sound decisions due to incapacity. To account for this, you can execute durable powers of attorney. With a durable power of attorney for health care, you name an agent to act as your representative for medical matters.
You can include a durable power of attorney for property as well. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee.
Another important incapacity planning document is a living will. In this type of advance directive, you express your preferences with regard to life-sustaining measures like ventilation, resuscitation, and artificial nutrition and hydration. You can also state your organ donation choices.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president in 1996. One provision contained within the HIPAA prevents doctors from sharing medical information with anyone other than the patient.
However, you can override this through the execution of a release form. You should definitely include one of these forms in your plan to give your health care agent access to the records. You can also add additional people if this is your choice.
Implications for Young Adults
When you are the parent of dependent children, you know that you will automatically be involved if your child needs medical attention for any reason. The subject of ability to make decisions for your child would probably never cross your mind, and this is understandable.
When your child celebrates his or her 18th birthday, the young person becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. As a result, the HIPAA protections will immediately kick in, and the consequences are significant.
Medical professionals would not be able to share any information about your child’s condition with you, even though they would obviously like to do so. Countless people have been in this situation over the years, and it is not a very pleasant scenario for anyone concerned.
This is why you should make sure that your child has an incapacity plan in place early on. All of the documents that we explained above should be included. When you take the right steps, everyone in the family can go forward with peace of mind.
Schedule a Consultation Right Now!
If you are ready to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer, we are here to help.
You can request a consultation in Charlotte, North Carolina or Huntersville, North Carolina if you give us a call at 704-944-3245. The number in Ashland, Kentucky is 606-324-5516; and in Florence, Kentucky, the number is 859-372-6655. If you would prefer to reach out electronically, you can send us a message through our contact page.