With the amount of uncertainty in 2020, the question of when to start estate planning is an increasingly common question among young people. And, this is an especially prescient question as about 70 percent of those between 18 and 34 do not have an estate plan. However, simply put, everyone should start estate planning at 18.

Durable power of attorney and patient advocate designation

When one first turns 18, they may not feel any different, but they are an adult. One can now vote and make decisions for themselves, but this also means that one’s parents do not necessarily control one’s healthcare anymore. This is why it is so important to have a durable power of attorney with a patient advocate designation.

Essentially, this gives a third-party, like one’s parents or a spouse, the ability to make medical decisions on the drafter’s behalf when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. This can be especially important if one has put off marriage, and they want their significant other to make end-of-life decisions. These can include whether to maintain a loved one on life support when in a persistent coma, length of time on a respirator, etc. Even if one has been living with their significant other for decades, without being married or having a DPA with a PAD, that significant other can make medical decisions.

Do young people really need a Last Will and Testament?

While everyone, even 18-year-olds, needs a DPA with a PAD, whether one needs a Will depends on what they own and how they want those possessions handled after death. If a young person has a checking and savings account, a beneficiary designation can be placed on those accounts without needing a will, which will allow a third-party access to those funds after death. A person can also add someone to their accounts, and this joint ownership will allow a third-party account access. This is when an estate planning attorney can come in handy.

Getting estate planning help

As our Southeast Michigan readers can now see, estate planning is not just about stuff. While it is true an effective estate plan will dictate how one’s belongings will be handled after death, a thorough estate plan will also help one during their life. But, to ensure one’s wishes are followed both before and after death, it is essential to draft an estate plan with an attorney.