Q: Do people who own very little actually need to estate plan or is it more for the wealthy and aren’t my parents still my guardians?
I am 19 years old, unmarried with a small child living in a trailer on a small piece of land I own in Winter Garden, Florida. My parents said I need to have an estate plan to protect what little I have and designate who would take care of my child should something happen to me.
A: Whether you own a piggy bank and a penny, or a lavish estate, without an estate plan, you lose control of what happens after you die or become incapacitated.
What You Should Know About Estate Planning
Without an estate plan, the courts, not you, will control what happens to your assets, you, your minor children, and more. If you are an adult, 18 years or older, living in Florida, your parents are no longer your guardians. You oversee your destiny, your estate, your children, and yourself for the rest of your life.
Once you become an adult, there are a lot of things to think about, especially if you are a parent. One major mistake young adults often make is leaving their children with their grandparents so they can continue to experience all of life’s new joys and wonders of the world. Without estate planning, should your child become injured while in grandparents’, friends’ or neighbors’ care, no one can make medical decisions on your child’s behalf. Unless, you have a health care directive for your child designating grandparents or others to legally manage the child’s care in your absence, whether it’s for an hour, weekend or longer.
What are the basic parts of estate planning that every young adult should have? Living documents are a good beginning often called ancillary estate documents by lawyers. These documents include a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Pre-Need Guardian and Living Will. Their importance are as follows.
- Health Care Surrogate – you have been injured in a motorcycle accident while in your first year at college and arrived at the emergency room unconscious. You are at the mercy of the law and doctors who are not required to make decisions even if it could cost you your life.
- Durable Power of Attorney – should you be injured, medically incapacitated, who will pay your bills?
- Pre-Need Guardian – You were in a car accident and permanently disabled. Who will care for you, your parents or the state of Florida?
- Living Will – while at a party you had a party favor laced with a drug, Fentanyl. Now that you are in a vegetative state, who will disconnect life support?
It is a lot to think about but your parents are correct. If you have but a Piggy Bank and a Penny, moreover, a child also, see an estate planning lawyer today. In addition to the above living documents, a Last Will and Testament would enable you to designate a guardian for your child should you die and to whom to give your trailer, land, car or any other assets you own.