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Young adults need to prepare for emergencies

People in New Jersey who have college-aged children are typically working to get their own estate planning documents in order. Once they’ve reached this stage of life, retirement is right around the corner. Because they’re so busy taking care of their own legal documents, they may neglect their children’s estate planning needs, which can cause serious problems during an emergency.

As soon as a young person turns 18, he becomes a legal adult. Unfortunately, some young people neglect to update their legal documents after they reach this milestone. For instance, when young adults fail to designate someone to make medical decisions on their behalf, their parents may be unable to receive any information from doctors regarding their medical condition. If a young person is in a coma and can’t make critical end-of-life decisions, his or her parents may be powerless.

To avoid situations like these, young people may want to appoint a trusted relative to be a health-care proxy who can make critical decisions for them in the event of a medical emergency. Also, it’s important for young people to sign a HIPAA release, which would enable doctors and hospitals to release their medical information to their chosen heath-care proxy.

In some cases, parents of young adults are left without any access to their child’s financial accounts following the child’s death or severely debilitating accident. For this reason, young adults may want to sign a general power of attorney to give their parents emergency access to their finances.

Even if death is not imminent, everyone should have certain legal documents ready and up-to-date. Some people may incorrectly assume that because 18-year-olds usually have little property, they don’t need to prepare estate-planning documents. Regardless of your age or circumstances, an estate-planning attorney may be able to help.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Why Your College-Age Child Needs an Estate Plan,” Anne Tergesen, Sep. 21, 2013

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