When you think of estate planning, you likely think of older adults planning how their property will be distributed to their spouse, children, and grandchildren. You likely do not think of a recent high school graduate who is heading off to college in the fall. However, estate planning can benefit anyone over the age of 18, which is the minimum age to sign a valid will or contract in New Jersey.
You may be wondering: Why does an 18-year-old need a will? While many 18-year-olds are still relying on their parents financially and do not have much property of their own, others may have inherited large amounts of money or property that become available when they turn 18. If they suddenly pass away in a tragic accident or due to an illness, the fate of their property will be left to the discretion of the probate court, which will distribute it in accordance with New Jersey intestate laws. Often, this may not be the most favorable distribution.
Additionally, a will designates someone to act as an executor of the estate. If no one is named as an executor, surviving family members will have to request that the probate court appoint someone to this task. This can take time and money that could have been avoided if a valid will existed, even if the young person had a minimal estate.
Finally, it is important to realize that estate planning can involve much more than making a will. While a will becomes effective after death, other aspects of a comprehensive estate plan work while the person is still alive but in the event they become incapacitated. These include:
- Power of attorney for financial affairs
- Power of attorney for health care
- Medical directives
If someone is in a coma after an accident and no one was named their power of attorney, it can be challenging to access their financial accounts and manage their affairs without the legal authority to do so. This situation will be significantly easier if someone has the authority to pay bills, manage accounts, and make other important decisions for the incapacitated individual.
Call 732 238-8686 today for more information.
While it is never pleasant to think about, accidents and illnesses can happen at any age. For this reason, it is never too early for an adult to discuss their options with an experienced estate planning attorney. Please contact the law office of Bowne Barry & Barry to learn more about our services today.