I find that younger adults—here defined as those under the age of 35—may not seriously consider estate planning as a necessity. They believe that they are immune from severe health problems and also tend to have fewer assets, less property, or children to make plans for.
However, younger adults still need to have a Will, especially if they do not want the state to determine who will inherit the assets that they do have. Perhaps more importantly, they need to have healthcare and financial powers of attorney in place in case they do get sick or find themselves in a situation where they are unable to manage their financial affairs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to us all that all of us are susceptible to risk. While the virus has a greater effect on the elderly population and those with underlying conditions, younger people have also been sickened or died from the illness. It is a devastating and unfortunate reality around the world that so many people have been killed or forever affected by this disease.
Younger adults, even without children or high-dollar assets, need to make basic estate planning decisions. Otherwise, the assets that you have worked so hard for will pass on to those who are entitled to inherit under state law rather than those you would have chosen yourself.
In terms of your health care, while you are suffering and unable to make decisions, without a health care power of attorney, your loved ones will be left to guess at what you may have wished, and they may not get it right.
In fact, perhaps the most crucial documents for younger adults to start with are medical powers of attorney. A medical emergency can happen at any time and in unexpected ways. If you haven’t started your estate planning at all, you may want to begin first with thinking about your medical wishes. If nothing else, it gives you a place to start if the rest feels overwhelming.
In terms of your financial affairs, without a financial power of attorney, your loved ones may not have the resources to continue to pay your rent, mortgage, utilities, student loans and the like. When you finally get better, you may be facing severe debt problems.
It is never too soon to start a plan to protect your rights with regard to your health and property and to make sure your loved ones are protected.