Now that the hoopla surrounding spring graduation is over, we’ve entered the “scouring IKEA for dorm or apartment furniture season!” Many parents have had to work as hard as their graduate to get across that school finish line and prepare for the next step, be that college, the military, the workplace, or moving out on their own. But even if you have a “failure to launch” situation delaying your designs on a new craft or exercise room, estate planning issues arise for every parent when their offspring becomes an adult.

They’ve Come of Age: Now What?

Once your child turns 18, they are legally free from parent control over their lives, including important issues like medical care and finances. What that means is that your newly minted graduate — just like you — needs to have a plan in place to empower trusted decision-makers to step in should an unforeseen event happen. Certainly, this is not something many young adults have on their radar. Fewer still will have the wealth at age 18 that requires the establishment of a deeper estate plan (i.e., a Trust). However, each and every young adult should have a plan that includes (at minimum) a financial Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Directive for Health Care. This planning not only would handle a “just in case” situation, but it would also protect any assets that might need management while the student is away at college or traveling. A departing scholar can give Mom, Dad, or other trusted person immediate access to things like bank accounts through these documents.

When your new graduate embarks on a career, they may begin to have workplace benefits like life insurance and a 401K plan. But what if they were to become incapacitated? A properly drafted Power of Attorney is necessary to operate someone else’s retirement plan for their benefit (and avoid the expensive court process necessary to keep it from languishing).

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

At Law Offices of Mark E. Lewis & Associates, we are fortunate to hear from many of our clients when their children leave the nest. Because our clients understand the necessity of solid estate planning, we are frequently engaged to prepare Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and even Wills for their recent graduates. As parting gifts go, an estate plan isn’t nearly as exciting as a new car, but it can be just as practical.

When meeting with these young people, we are able to teach them a little bit more about “real” life and relationships in the conversation. I enjoy the privilege of introducing future-minded concepts and benefits to a client’s children who may have been the main object of the family’s planning process just a few short years before. Recently, I had the momentous honor of preparing an estate plan for a third generation member of a long-standing client’s family.

Whether your young adult stays near or ventures far in the coming months and years, it’s wise for them to create legal documents that protect assets, both close to home and newly acquired –in case of incapacity– and that allow them to work directly with administrators at colleges and other institutions,. Additionally, do encourage your young adult to consider who in their life could be trusted to step in and help during a life crisis. It won’t hurt you to have some parental peace-of-mind, either!