Why Don’t Young Adults Estate Plan?

As a young lawyer, one of my main goals is to get out in the community and meet as many people as possible.  Given that I am 28 years old, my networking efforts typically involve people my own age.  After discovering that I am a lawyer in Sun Prairie and practice estate planning, the conversation almost always goes like this (NYP = Noncommittal Young Person):

NYP:     Estate planning…yeah, I looked at having a will and some other documents drafted a while back.  I really meant to get it done, but I never quite got there.  I really should.

Me:      Why didn’t you have them done?

NYP:     I don’t know, I was going to get it done but I got sidetracked / I didn’t really know the attorney / the form was really long / I forgot to call the attorney back / I was really busy with other things at the time / I didn’t want to think about it / I didn’t know who should take care of my kids, dog, etc. / I am not married or don’t have any kids / I was told that I didn’t need to do it and that the state would take care of me.

In my experience, most young people do not see the pressing need for executing estate planning documents.  They view estate planning as something their parents and grandparents should be worried about, not them.  They also don’t think they need to execute any documents unless they are married or have children.

These views are all false.  Everyone over the age of 18 should have a Will, Financial (Durable) Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney document in place.  End of story.  My reasoning for this is quite simply that accidents happen, even to us young people!  According to recent CDC data (the most recent available, as far as I could find, was for 2007) the single leading cause of death for individuals aged 25-45 was accidents (24%).  I will grant you that it is statistically unlikely that a young person will be affected by an accident.  However, if such an accident occurs and you have not executed these documents, then you are ceding your decision-making authority regarding your health treatment, finances, etc. to other people (judges, state-appointed social workers, etc.).  Nothing against these fine individuals, they are very good at what they do and they work very hard, but when you consider that the state procedures are already over-burdened, and are costly, stressful and time-consuming to families, all at a time when that family is already scrambling to get back on its feet, I hope it isn’t hard to see why being proactive and executing estate planning documents (and, thus, avoiding the majority of this hassle) is good advice.

Moral of the story: Accidents happen.  Even to young people.  You owe it to yourself and to your family to be proactive and get these documents in place.  If you would like to discuss your estate planning needs, please call (608) 837-7386 and one of our estate planning attorneys would be happy to assist you.

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