Ah, youth. The world is yours—or will be, when you earn some money. Nothing can stop you—maybe, not even death.
Optimism is great. But, as Mike Koutnik’s article explains, even optimists need some basic estate planning tools.
What if you’re injured in a car accident or nasty fall? Without a health care power of attorney (HCPOA), if you become incapable of making your own medical decisions, the hospital will make them for you.
A HCPOA lets you designate who you trust to make medical decisions for you if you can’t. See the Page 3 article on Lamar Odom, who had no HCPOA.
And what if, while you’re incapacitated or recovering, you can’t access your accounts or pay your bills (including your rent or -lucky you– your mortgage).
If you executed a general durable power of attorney, naming a trusted and financially knowledgeable person to handle your finances, you won’t return from rehab to a stack of collection notices.
Now, what if you’re one of the unlucky few and die from your injuries? Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for those age 18-34.*
You may not be rich, but everyone owns property. Most people want theirs divided amongst their immediate family.
But what about that baseball signed by Rollie Fingers that your best friend covets? Or that poster your sweetheart really likes? You can direct who will get what through a simple will.
You may also have a small but growing 401(k) or other retirement account. If you die, the account will be transferred to whomever you list on your beneficiary designation form.
Want to give your struggling sister some help? Make her the beneficiary. With no designation, your account would pass according to the state’s scheme, not yours.
Estate planning covers more than “bad” things. What if you get married? Congratulations. Now consider a prenuptial agreement (or post-nuptial, if you already tied the knot).
Such an agreement describes how property acquired before and during marriage will be treated at divorce or death.
Spouses can classify their property in any fair way. Each party’s “property” can remain that party’s property, or spouses can combine their assets. Inheritances or gifts can be kept separate or joined together.
All newlyweds, of course, expect their marriage to last forever. Hopefully yours will. But such an agreement can protect you if it doesn’t.
Estate planning is for everyone, not just “old” or “middle age” people. So work with an FOS estate planning attorney to protect yourself.
Then go rule the world.