Young Adults Should Consider Estate Planning

Carissa Giebel column: Young adults should look at estate planning

Most young adults, especially college students, never consider estate planning. In fact, many people don’t consider it until they either have children, or until they are planning for retirement.

Many young adults never consider estate planning because they don’t have much for assets. However, any person over the age of 18 is considered an adult under the law in Wisconsin, which is why some estate planning documents are needed for all people aged 18 and older.

Once someone reaches the age 18, parents no longer have decision making authority on behalf of the child. This means they cannot make financial or medical decisions, even if their child is unable to make them. That’s why it’s important for the young adults to do the necessary estate planning documents, appointing trusted individuals to make decisions on their behalf, in case something would happen where they are unable to make decisions themselves.

If an adult child is unable to make decisions, whether it be temporarily or permanently, medical professionals will likely deny the parents any information and not consult with them regarding the child’s situation. This is true even if the parents are supporting the child or paying their medical bills.

This is where a Health Care Power of Attorney would come into place. If the child had one prepared and signed prior to their condition, the medical professionals would consult with the agent named. The agent can be a parent, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be any trusted friend or family member. After the Health Care Power of Attorney is executed, give a copy to the child’s doctors to keep in their files.

The same is true for financial accounts and decisions. Parents are likely going to be denied access to any of the child’s financial accounts or assets, unless parents are joint owners on the account or listed as an agent.

To solve this potential concern, a Durable Power of Attorney can be done, naming a trusted person to manage assets. This can be structured two different ways. One way would make it effective right away when it’s signed, meaning the agent can act immediately. This typically works better for young adults, especially college students, so parents can access their accounts if need be when the child is out of town. This can also be structured so that it doesn’t become effective until incapacity, meaning the agent cannot act until incapacity.

If the powers of attorney are not prepared in advance, and an unfortunate situation arises, parents will likely have to petition the court for a guardianship proceeding, asking the court to give them decision-making authority. Not only can this take weeks to complete, but it can also be costly.

While it is not always necessary for a young adult to get a full estate plan, including a will and/or a trust, it is important to get the powers of attorney done, naming agents to act for financial or medical decisions.

Carissa Giebel is an estate planning attorney and partner at Legacy Law Group LLC. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or (920) 560-4651.

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 Welcome to Legacy Law Group!

Customized Estate Planning and Wealth Preservation for Your Future and the Future of Your Loved Ones

You have worked hard all your life to build your estate, but you may not be sure of the best way to pass your assets, business, and personal property to your loved ones. You may also be facing some common concerns to many families, which may be complicating the planning process, such as paying for nursing home care while preserving assets for the spouse at home. As an estate planning law firm, we are dedicated to developing comprehensive estate plans, including wills and trusts, that integrate estate planning, asset protection, long-term care planning, and elder law related issues. We take a client-centered approach to provide the highest value to our clients through uniquely crafted personalized plans. We work hard to ensure our clients are fully informed of their planning options, while counseling them through these important decisions. When a loved one passes away in Wisconsin, we represent heirs, beneficiaries, family members and corporate fiduciaries in every step of the probate or trust administration, with the utmost compassion and understanding.

In addition to creating customized wills and trusts, we guide our clients through the process of creating durable powers of attorney and healthcare documents, such as health care power of attorneys, living wills, and HIPAA authorizations. This allows our clients to outline their wishes in advance of a problem and will usually keep the family out of an expensive and troublesome guardianship proceeding. By guiding our clients through proper disability planning, they are able to decide for themselves who they would like to name as an agent to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated, rather than a judge in a courtroom.

Because our firm intentionally focuses on just a few key areas of the law, we bring the capabilities and expertise of a large firm, but the personalized attention of a small firm. We strive to establish long-term, personalized relationships with all our clients.

Legacy Law Group, LLC serves Northeast Wisconsin, with offices in Appleton, Green Bay, and Clintonville. Our services focus exclusively on estate planning, disability planning, Medicaid and long-term care planning, wealth transfer planning, asset protection planning, and probate & estate administration. Please contact us for more information.

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