Adults may wish to determine power of attorney early

Estate planning is important for everyone, not just the elderly. It's not uncommon for college-aged people or young adults to think that estate planning only applies to older generations, but it is important for everyone. Anyone over the age of 18 is considered an adult in most states, and that reason alone is one good reason for why you should have estate planning documents drawn up.

According to the news from Dec. 30, this planning is important because parents will no longer have the decision-making authority for their children. Medical decisions, for instance, will not be able to be made by your parents if you're injured, even if you can't speak for yourself. Financial concerns will be managed similarly.

In these cases, you might want to think about setting up a health care power of attorney. If you have that in place and fall too ill to make your own decisions, you'll have the documents needed to allow a parent, or other party, to make your medical decisions for you. The same thing can happen with your financial decisions and accounts. Appointing a power of attorney will allow anyone you deem appropriate access to your finances; the only exception to this is if you have a shared account, and in that case, no power of attorney is needed for access.

If you're legally an adult, you should start to consider these things. It's important to consider who you would want to participate in your most critical decisions. You may want to speak with an estate planning attorney if you have questions about your legal rights and obligations.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette, "Carissa Giebel column: Young adults should look at estate planning" No author given, Dec. 30, 2013

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