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Ages and Stages — Age 18 Through the Recent College Graduate

Ages and Stages — Age 18 Through the Recent College Graduate

You’re no longer a minor, so as an adult your parents are unable to make legal decisions on your behalf.

You likely have few assets, perhaps your first bank account, or you may open a Roth IRA to start saving from your summer job.

If you plan to move for college or a job, there may be some period of time when it is not clear whether you have established a permanent legal domicile in a state other than the state of your parents’ residence for tax and legal purposes.

You may not have family living close by, you might experience a health crisis while at school, a bad car accident, or a problem with your bank account while you’re studying abroad.

If you’ve recently finished school, you may start accumulating more assets, your employer may offer life insurance benefits or a work retirement plan.

What are the Estate Planning Documents everyone age 18 and older needs?

A Durable Power of Attorney if you are incapacitated and can’t handle your financial matters. This document allows you to select an agent (perhaps your parents or a sibling) to act on your behalf.

An Advance Health Care Directive (Living Will) if you are incapacitated and can’t make medical treatment decisions for yourself. This document allows you to select an agent (perhaps your parents or a sibling) to speak with medical professionals and make medical decisions on your behalf. This document can also include anatomical gift authorization if you are so inclined.

Consider a basic simple Will to name a personal representative to handle your estate and distribute any assets that might not be covered by a beneficiary designation. It may not be tax-wise to leave property to parents – if their estates are large enough, additional property will be taxed at higher rates, so consider leaving assets to siblings who are already 18+.

It’s important to make sure you have beneficiary designations on bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance. This will help keep assets out of probate.

You should also get into the habit of safekeeping your important records, such as the nature and location of assets, digital passwords, location of signed original estate planning documents, car certificates of title, and beneficiary designations. Also, be sure to talk to your family about your funeral/burial/cremation desires.

It’s never too early to meet with an estate planning attorney to make a plan!

Ages and Stages is a series by Lisa McLaughlin on the estate planning documents to consider at various ages and stages of life.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Receipt and use of this information, by itself, does not create an attorney client relationship.  You should consult with your attorney, tax professional, and financial advisor when creating and implementing your estate plan. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. 

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