John R. Bullis: Estate plans are important for younger adults, too

Older folks know they need an estate plan (will and/or trust, power of attorney forms for health and financial matters), but many younger adults also need an estate plan.

The younger adults are busy. They are usually healthy and will try to get around to doing an Estate Plan when they are “older”. However, waiting can be a big mistake.

They might at least do the power of attorney forms for advanced health care decisions and financial decisions. They could consider designating their parents and/or older siblings as agents.

They probably should get copies of the beneficiary designations of any life-insurance or retirement plans as well. Maybe they already have contingent beneficiaries identified.

If they don’t have the power of attorney for health care, the medical decisions or even information about their condition can be a problem. In the midst of an emergency, the court can appoint a guardian, but that will involve extra expense and time. It’s better to have the form done, give copies to the agents and plan ahead.

We have spare tires for the vehicles, but we hope not to need them, and in most times it works out we did not have a problem or need. I can’t remember when I’ve had a flat tire, maybe 30 years ago. But if there is a time when the authorization form is needed, having things in order is much better.

The durable power of attorney for financial decisions likewise can be very beneficial. It helps ensure bills are paid timely, insurance stays in force and even tax returns can be filed in a timely fashion.

Some folks hesitate to talk about this topic and the need to have all the forms done, beneficiary designations made, etc. However, most young folks are more responsible than is generally believed. They know the need is there, but they just keep putting it off until they will “have time” to do it. They may just need a nudge or suggestion with maybe a couple of attorneys’ names to get it started.

Getting all of your own forms, etc., up to date is setting a good example. If you have named them in your forms, why not give the young folks copies for their files and information? They may want to discuss it with you but hesitate to bring up the subject. A family meeting on all of this might be one of the best things you can do.

You warned them about problems and suggested they look both ways before crossing the street when they were growing up. Now maybe you need to help them get an estate plan.

Did you hear? “I must do something” will always solve more problems than “Something must be done.”


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