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When’s a Good Time for Estate Planning? The Sooner, the Better


People who are young don’t often think about estate planning. It can seem like there’s little point for someone barely out of his or her teenage years to think about what should be done in the event of their physical incapacitation, for example.

However, that’s exactly the sort of situation that a health care proxy can provide for. A 21-year-old away at college, for example, is for all intents and purposes considered an adult. Should an accident or sudden illness incapacitate that person, it isn’t presumed that the person’s parents will be able to act on his or her behalf when it comes to the young person’s health care decisions.

Actually, it wouldn’t be allowed unless a signed directive exists naming the parents as the young person’s agent. Of course, this must be done before the incapacitation exists — requiring some advance planning.

Another idea for students is to set up a power of attorney arrangement. This could come in handy for students who are studying abroad, for example. While it would come into play should the student be incapacitated, it has more practical effects too: something needing a signature, such as a car registration, could be taken care of by a parent or other person specified.

Of course, it’s never too early for someone in his or her 20s to get started on estate planning in other aspects too. An experienced estate planning attorney can help set up a will, get beneficiary arrangements in place and otherwise make sure a young person’s legal bases are covered.

Source: NBC News, “Even young adults should start estate planning,” Shenya Steiner, May 6, 2013

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