Do you have an emerging young adult in your family who is not under a guardianship? After their 18th birthday, you may want to consider having them meet with an attorney to discuss a durable power of attorney, health care proxy and a Will. People often say, “why do I need a Will?” or “isn’t estate planning for wealthy people?” The fact is that basic estate planning is designed to provide a convenient and protective structure that enables someone to take care of things for someone else. Once a child reaches 18, s/he is an adult in the eyes of the law and parents cannot be the substitute decision-makers without authority to do so.
Your young adult may be developing capabilities with respect to their own banking, understanding their health care issues or reading and understanding leases and other contracts. As a parent, you help them to grow and learn and to make decisions as they encounter new challenges. However, should there be a tragic event that causes incapacity, there are myriad decisions and transactions that have to be done, and this is where having that power of attorney and health care proxy can be really useful. I tell clients that it’s like a fire insurance policy — it may sit in the drawer for years, but you’ll be glad you have it if that dreadful event occurs.
For a young adult with special needs, an immediate and durable general power of attorney for financial and health issues can enable their chosen “agent” to step in and assist as needed. Your child may have an aptitude for certain tasks but be just mystified at others. They may do well with paperwork, but freeze up when it comes to making telephone calls to a third party such as an insurance company, a commercial vendor or a doctor’s office. They may do well with basic banking but find it difficult to understand their employer’s health plan. You need that power of attorney to be able to interact with third parties on their behalf and help cut through the red tape.
Finally, having a Will is a good idea for your child even if they have limited funds in their own name. The reason is that if your child passes away, there can be legal issues to pursue (such as lawsuits, or inheritances from some other estate that’s still open), and it is much simpler when there is a designated Executor under the Will than when family members have to first apply for Letters of Administration, get bonded, and so forth to be able to act on behalf of the estate. http://ucnj.org/government/surrogate/wills-estates-probate-2/
Careful planning can prevent a crisis. Call us about basic estate planning for young adults…. 732-38206070