Most people assume estate planning is a task you can put off until your later years. However, even the young, healthy, and not so wealthy can benefit from estate planning. Although it may not be crucial for young adults to use every estate planning tool in the book, some tools can benefit even those in their 20s and 30s. Young adults who utilize a few simple estate planning tools can be sure they are prepared and in control when the unexpected happens.
Most young adults have few assets to their name, so they assume creating a will is not yet necessary. What they don’t consider, however, is the result of not having a valid will. When someone dies without a will in Florida, all of their assets will pass by Florida’s intestate succession laws. So, if a young adult were to pass without a will, they would have no say in how their assets were distributed. This could affect both the young adult’s interest, as well as the interests of their loved ones.
Let’s say, for example, you are 26 years old and have been with your significant other for the past 8 years. The two of you live together, benefiting from each other’s assets, but are not yet married. You wish for your partner to receive all that you own if you were to pass unexpectedly. Unfortunately, your significant other would not be entitled to any of your assets or property without a valid will that lists them as a beneficiary. Instead, your assets would pass according to Florida’s intestacy laws.
Now, let’s take the example above, but in this scenario, you and your significant other are married. If you pass without a will, your significant other will likely be entitled to at least a portion of your property; however, they will now have to face a lengthy court process and hefty costs to acquire your assets and property.
Having a valid will ensures you are always in control of your belongings, even after death. It also saves your loved ones some of the time and costs of going through probate, because beneficiaries are identified in your will instead of intestacy. This means they will not need to dig deep into your family history to determine who is entitled to your property. Wills can be a very important estate planning tool, even for young adults.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is another estate planning tool young adults can benefit from. A power of attorney is a document that gives someone the legal authority to act for another person. The person who creates the power of attorney will appoint someone to act as their agent in certain circumstances. An ordinary power of attorney usually terminates when a person becomes incapacitated. A “durable” power of attorney (DPOA), on the other hand, does not terminate upon incapacitation. A DPOA has the authority to act as an agent even upon one’s incapacitation. A DPOA has the authority to make both medical and financial decisions for the incapacitated individual.
If you have not assigned a durable power of attorney, the Florida courts will decide who is authorized to make your important decisions for you. The court process is lengthy and costly, which can be a huge detriment to friends and family who are already dealing with the fact their loved one is incapacitated. Naming a durable power of attorney can save your loved ones the unneeded stress of going through the court process to decide who is eligible to act as your decision maker. It is also a way to be sure there is someone you trust in control of your important financial and medical decisions when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
This is even more critical if you and your partner are not married. The legal system likes to rely on what it knows. What it knows is that family comes before
Designation of Health Care Surrogate
Young adults can benefit from a designation of health care surrogate. A designation of health care surrogate is a document that gives an appointee legal authority to make health care decisions for an individual if they become incapacitated. Unlike a durable power of attorney, a health care surrogate may only decide medical decisions for the incapacitated.
Like with a durable power of attorney, assigning a designation of health care surrogate can save your loved ones the headache of going through the court’s process to assign your decision maker. It will also benefit you by giving you piece of mind knowing a trusted individual will be in control of your medical decisions if you cannot be in control of those decisions yourself.
Estate planning can help young adults and their loved ones be better prepared for the unthinkable. If you have questions or need assistance with estate planning tools for a young adult, please contact us today.
Written by Alison Koukoulis edited by Patrick D. Quarles.