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From College to Career, What Every 18-Year-Old Needs

From College to Career, What Every 18-Year-Old Needs

The golden rule of estate planning is that after any major life event, your estate plan needs updating. Did you get married? Your plan needs to reflect this. Do you have a child on the way? Protecting your family now means updating your will with guardianship designations (among other concerns). Did you have a recent divorce? You get the idea.

One major life event often overlooked where estate planning is concerned is reaching the age of majority. When your child turns 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska, or 21 in Mississippi), they gain exclusive control over their medical and financial affairs, whether they want it or not. This means as parents, you can no longer intervene in medical or financial matters which, while maybe exciting for them, is also risky.

Gaining adult responsibilities feels great for your children. It’s nice for them to be validated as fully capable by society. Adult consequences, on the other hand, can feel bad, which is why all adults need to have basic protections in place. It can also leave parents feeling a loss of control and worry over the ability to help out in an emergency.

Whether your children are heading off to college or out into the working world, as soon as they reach the age of majority, they need to execute the following three documents.

1. Durable Financial Power of Attorney
When signing a durable financial power of attorney, you designate a trusted loved one or advisor to manage your financial affairs should you suffer incapacitation. Say, for instance, your children get hit by a car and placed in a medically induced coma. Who’s going to ensure their bills are paid and their credit score is protected? Who will litigate on their behalf should the need arise? Having a durable financial power of attorney ensures your children have answers to these questions, and if they choose, that you are still able to help out in any of these crises.

2. Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney works just like the above but applies to questions concerning healthcare. Should your child suffer incapacitation, a trusted loved one needs to be empowered to make decisions that align with their values and needs. Signing a medical power of attorney allows them to both entrust a designated person with this responsibility and outline specific expectations they may have for their care.

3. A Living Will
A living will, or advance health directive, protects you and your health care wishes when you can no longer communicate. It can help prevent arguments between family members as to what care you want (and don’t want) if you are in a vegetative state. If you are in the last stages of a terminal condition, a living will gives you control over what medical treatments and procedures take place if you become unable to communicate. I think one of the best reasons is that you (and your family) can receive some peace of mind. If a tough decision is to be made, your loved one can merely inform the medical staff as to your wishes, rather than “making the decision” for you.

To learn more about protecting your family, yourself, and your finances, or to address any other matter related to estate planning, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm either by calling 417-623-2062 or using the contact form on our website.


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