Today, for a number of reasons, many young people have not created an estate plan. However, it is extremely important that young people, especially couples, begin to plan early on in order to provide for their families, designate a person to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf, and protect their assets.
All college-age individuals should have advance directives. These documents designate a person to make medical and financial decisions on his or her behalf if they become incapacitated. Advanced directives include a healthcare proxy along with a HIPAA release form, living will, and durable power of attorney. A health care proxy designates an agent to make medical decisions on another’s behalf. A living will provide information that sets forth an individual’s wishes for life-sustaining treatment. A HIPAA release allows an agent to retrieve a person’s medical information from their doctor.
A durable power of attorney designates an individual to make financial decisions on another’s behalf. There are two types of durable powers of attorney:
- Traditional power of attorney: This is a written, signed document that becomes effective at the time of execution.
- Springing power of attorney: This is a written, signed document that goes into effect when a physician signs an affidavit indicating that a person is incapacitated.
Young people, especially those with families should create a Will that indicates who will inherit their belongings. If a person has a minor child, any assets intended for the benefit of the child should be left in a trust. Also, in accordance with New York State law, a child under the age of 18 may not manage his or her assets. For this reason, a guardian must be appointed to manage the inheritance. Furthermore, a young person with a minor child should select a guardian to care for their child in the event that he or she passes away.
Once advanced directives are established and a valid Will is executed, it is important to continue to update it according to life situations. In addition, it is important to speak with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney to ensure that your assets are protected.
At Tully Law, PC, we understand that elder and estate planning can be both emotional and overwhelming. Our attorneys are available to advise you on complex estate planning and elder law issues so as to minimize the possibility of any problems. We will take the time to review your goals and circumstances, and do our best to ensure that your assets are protected and your wishes will be carried out as per your estate plan. For more information regarding our services or to schedule a consultation, call (631) 424-2800.