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Estate planning for young adults

Posted on March 22, 2022

For most young adults setting up an estate plan is not a priority. Most people who reach the age of 18 do not think about writing a last will and testament because there are other things on their minds: studying, starting a family, building a career, paying off student debt, and getting approved for the first mortgage.

At TdD Attorneys at Law, I help people of all ages, including young adults, create estate plans tailored to their specific needs and goals. I provide estate planning services in St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout the State.

At What Age Should You Create an Estate Plan?

There is a common misconception that only older people can benefit from creating an estate plan. However, estate planning is important regardless of age. Even young adults should have an estate plan to protect themselves, their family, and their future.

Once a child turns 18, they become an adult in the eyes of the law. Young adults begin to take on many adult responsibilities, even if they still live with their parents. For this reason, it is generally a good idea to start thinking about estate planning once an individual turns 18.

Like many other estate planning attorneys, I believe that there is no specific age at which a person should start creating an estate plan. The elements that an estate plan needs to contain depend on the individual’s circumstances, needs, and goals. Thus, the estate plan of an 18-year-old may differ from that of a 50-year-old.

Understandably, a young adult’s situations and needs will change over time. Under the law, individuals have a right to make changes to their estate plan any time they want.

Why Should a Young Adult
Have an Estate Plan?

There are several reasons why young adults need an estate plan. Some of the reasons include:

  • Young adults begin to accumulate assets. Once an individual reaches the age of majority, they begin to earn income and accumulate assets. Having an estate plan can protect those assets.

  • Young adults begin to accumulate debts, including student loan debt. Many young adults in the United States take on student loans. According to the Education Data Initiative, more than a third of American adults between the ages of 18 and 29 years have student loan debt. An estate plan allows people to decide who will be responsible for paying their debt, or not to pay the debt at all if something happens to them.

  • Young adults need someone to make decisions on their behalf. Before an individual reaches the age of 18, their parents are responsible for making decisions on their behalf. However, an individual over the age of 18 needs to appoint another person – an attorney-in-fact – to make decisions on their behalf in the event of their incapacity.

  • Young adults are responsible for others. Many young adults have children and pets on their own. When young adults are responsible for others, they need a well-drafted estate plan in place to ensure that someone will take care of their loved ones in the event of their incapacity or death. And, we can plan for future children even if the individual current does not have any – so the estate plan doesn’t have to be amended later.

At TdD Attorneys at Law, I assist young and older adults with creating an estate plan that meets their needs and goals. I can listen to your concerns and analyze your specific situation to set up a comprehensive estate plan.

Critical Elements of a Young Adult’s Estate Plan

There are certain elements a young adult may need as part of their estate plan, including:

  1. Power of attorney. Once you turn 18, you can benefit from making a power of attorney, which authorizes a designated person to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. The main thing to keep in mind when choosing who to appoint is that the person should be someone you trust. After all, the person you choose will have the authority to make decisions regarding your medical treatment as well as financial, legal, and business affairs.

  2. Last will and testament. While it may seem that writing a will is not vital for someone between the ages of 18 and 29, a comprehensive estate plan should always include a well-written last will and testament, regardless of the testator’s death. If a person dies without a will, known as dying intestate, their assets will be distributed following their state’s intestacy laws. A will also allows the testator to appoint the guardian of their minor children.

  3. Living trust. A young adult who has accumulated assets may need to set up a living trust to protect their assets and avoid or minimize probate in the event of their death.

The elements a young adult’s estate plan should contain will depend on the person’s circumstances, needs, and goals.

Contact an Estate Planning
Attorney to Get Legal Help

Whether you are a young adult who starts thinking about estate planning or you want to help your child set up an estate plan, contact a skilled attorney. As a knowledgeable estate planning attorney at TdD Attorneys at Law, I help young adults and their older counterparts create enforceable and legally binding estate plans tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. Get a case evaluation today to discuss your particular case. I proudly serve clients in St. Louis, Missouri and surrounding areas.