Do young adults need estate plans?

As the summer winds down, young adults in Texas and across the U.S. are gearing up to head back to school. Many are occupied with thoughts of classes, dorms, friends, football and all the other activities of school. Few are thinking that they should be preparing estate plans. However, it is critical for every young adult aged 18 years old or older to make basic estate plans. Young adults and their parents should understand why they need estate plans and the components their estate plans should include.

Health care decisions

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act ensures that each adult's medical records are private. However, this law prevents parents from accessing their children's medical records without their children's permission. In the event that a child becomes incapacitated, parents may not be able to get information about whether their children have been admitted to health care facilities or what happened to their children.

A young adult can circumvent this problem by filling out a medical power of attorney form that includes a HIPAA release, granting parents the authority to make medical decisions on the young adult's behalf in the event that he or she is unable to do so. Young adults may also want to consider drafting advance health care directives spelling out their wishes regarding medical care and end-of-life issues.

Financial decisions

Young adults may also want to consider giving their parents the power to manage their financial affairs by setting up a durable power of attorney. This can be particularly useful not only for students who become incapacitated but also those who are attending a university far from home or studying abroad for a time. A durable power of attorney gives parents the ability to complete business transactions on their children's behalf, dealing with matters such a paying bills with the young adult's account, handling matters that arise at the Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the young adult's car and signing contracts for the young adult.

In Texas, a durable power of attorney can take effect immediately or become active in the event that the drafter becomes incapacitated.

Talk to a lawyer

Making estate plans can seem like an overwhelming task. Few people like to think about being in a situation where they will not be able to make decisions for themselves, and they may not know where to begin in their planning. If you have questions about making or updating an estate plan, speak with a skilled Texas estate planning attorney who can help you achieve you estate planning objectives.