There is a common misconception that estate planning is a process that only benefits the wealthy and those who need to plan ahead in the event that they die before they’re minor children reach the age of majority. In truth, virtually all adults need to have some estate planning documentation in place at all times.
In the U.S., when minors reach the age of 18, their parents are no longer in a position to make legal, medical, and financial decisions on their behalf automatically. As a result, it is important for every single legal adult to put certain documents in place in the event of their unexpected death or incapacitation due to injury or illness. Without these documents in place, there is no guarantee that their wishes will be respected or that their wishes can be enforced.
As an experienced estate planning lawyer – including those who practice at Kaplan Law Practice, LLC – can confirm, in the event that someone dies without a will in place, their property will be distributed according to state law. Many young adults and adults who do not own valuable assets are generally unconcerned about making a will because they feel as if they have nothing of value to pass along. However, it is important to take some time to think about all the sentimental property that one owns and to think about one’s digital assets. After giving these matters some thought, it is likely that just about all adults we’ll see the need to make a will.
Without a will in place, all of one’s sentimental property will be distributed according to state law. Additionally, the matter of who can access one’s digital accounts – including social media accounts and accounts featuring one’s intellectual property – and what those who have been granted such authority can do with those accounts will also be left up to state law. If you don’t want, for example, your mom reading every single thing you’ve ever sent on Facebook, you’ll need to draft a will that limits access to and use of your digital accounts.
Medical, Financial, and General Decision-Making Concerns
Many younger adults understandably do not think about crafting a will because they believe death to be very far away. However, in addition to the reality that death may befall anyone at any moment, it is important to consider the idea that a car crash, sudden illness, act of violence, or even a work-related injury could cause you such harm that you’re temporarily unable to make your own decisions.
It is this very real risk that makes it critical for all adults to have an advance healthcare directive in place and to name power of attorney authority for financial, medical, business, and/or general legal decision-making. Absent these efforts, you will (again) be left at the mercy of state law when it comes to determining the kinds of medical care you’ll receive, who will make financial decisions on your behalf while incapacitated, who will look over your children, etc. Estate planning is both serious and urgent business for young and older adults alike.