High school graduation season is nearly over. It’s a celebratory time when you are perhaps more mindful about ways to secure the future of your young adult children. This is an excellent time to remind our clients with graduates heading off to college this fall that while most 18-year-olds probably don’t have a will, there are several good reasons why they should.
We recommend that as soon as a young person turns 18, the age at which one becomes an “adult” and can enter into a legal contract, a will should be drawn up.
Young People Own Things, Too
Creating a last will and testament sparks young people to consider what happens after they perhaps get married or have children of their own, as well as what they own and what it is worth.
There are more practical reasons for it, as well. Many young people often have some money and other assets, whether from a job, an inheritance, or grandparents leaving belongings to them. If the young person wants to direct where those inherited possessions should go if he or she were to die, then a will would be the best strategy.
Whenever anyone dies without a will, state law determines how assets are disbursed. That can mean less money and long delays for heirs – putting stress on a family already dealing with the death of a young person.
Meaningful possessions to your teen could include a beloved pet, a music collection or even a first car. If something happens to your child, what is going to happen to the animal, to the collection or the car?
Who Will Raise My Baby’s Baby?
Unplanned pregnancy is another compelling reason for a young adult to draft a will. No matter how much you preached abstinence or educated them on using contraceptives, your child may still become a young parent.
It’s hard to imagine, but who will be the baby’s guardian if your young teen (the parent), often unwed, dies? Your child’s will can state who he or she wants your grandchild’s guardian to be.
A Simple Will is a Good Investment
Wills can be created relatively inexpensively. It’s also important to periodically update wills created for young people, to reflect new assets and additions to their families.
As your estate planning attorney, we can draft a will for a young person as part of the entire family’s planning strategy. We want to emphasize that it’s important to have a will created for your teen; and we encourage you to do it now – before it’s too late.
Other Documents They Need
While a will helps determine what happens to your young adult’s belongings, there are two other very important estate planning documents we recommend everyone to have:
• Health Care Power of Attorney
• Durable Financial Power of Attorney
These documents grant another person authority to make medical and financial decisions for the 18-year-old should he or she become incapacitated. Often, it’s the parents who are named as power of attorney for the teen. While 18-year-olds are adults in the eyes of the law, most are still fully dependent on you, both financially and emotionally.
A Financial Rite of Passage
If you find it difficult to broach the subject of estate planning with your children, you can camouflage it by including it in a larger conversation about financial issues and tell your child, “We’re going to open a bank account in your name. You’ll need to meet with a financial advisor and write a will.”
Remember, young people are often eager to take any first steps that bring them closer to the rights and privileges of adulthood! A will shows others that your young teen has thoughtfully taken on adult responsibilities.
We hope this information is useful to you and helps your clients and their families. If you have a specific case or a question, please don’t hesitate to call our office and schedule an appointment.