If you are over the age of 18, it is an appropriate time to look into starting your basic estate plan. While you may or may not have significant assets at this age, having an estate plan is still important.
When you’re younger, the more important aspects of an estate plan include setting up your health care power of attorney, living will and any trusts you’d like to set aside assets in.
At 18, you’re a legal adult
At the age of 18, you become a legal adult. That means that your parents or guardians can no longer make decisions on your behalf. This may come into play if you are involved in an auto accident or have an illness that requires hospitalization.
You can sign off, if you’re conscious, on paperwork to allow them to get your medical records or to make medical decisions for you at the hospital, but it’s smart to have this health care power of attorney set up in advance. That way, if you happen to be knocked out under anesthesia or are unconscious due to an illness or injury, an assigned loved one will still have access to your information and the power to make decisions about your health care.
If you have assets, such as if you received an inheritance from a parent who passed away, you may want to set up a will and trust as well. By placing your inheritance into a trust, you may be able to help protect it against division if you get a divorce or against creditors if you are ever in financial trouble.
It’s never too early to start your estate plan
These two situations alone make it a smart choice to start working on your estate plan when you’re young. At a minimum, you should focus on estate planning in a way that helps protect your best interests and any assets you have at this time. As you build wealth and move forward in life, you can always alter and expand this estate plan to fit the changes in your lifestyle. Getting started now will help you be protected from the start.