A growing number of millennials are beginning to have children. Yet, the vast majority of this generation does not have advanced directives or a Last Will and Testament in place. Designating a person to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf, and on their child’s behalf, is extremely important in the event he or she becomes incapacitated or dies. Advanced directives include the following:
- Health Care Proxy;
- Living Will;
- HIPPA Release Form; and
- Power of Attorney.
A health care proxy designates an agent to make medical decisions in the event a person becomes incapacitated. A living will specifies an individual’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment or the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in the event of a terminal illness or incurable disease. It addresses intubation, the use of antibiotics, and organ donation, among other things. A HIPAA release form allows an agent to retrieve a person’s medical information from healthcare professionals, which can be necessary for paying medical bills and discussing treatment options with a person’s doctors. A power of attorney designates an agent to make financial decisions in the event a person becomes incapacitated. This document is extremely important when a person has minor children. This document will allow a designated agent to continue to pay your bills and access your finances in order to care for your child in the event you become unable to do so yourself.
More importantly, a Last Will and Testament is a signed written document that can be tailored to express a person’s wishes regarding who should be appointed to care for their child until the child turns 18. In addition, a Will may name your child as the beneficiary of your assets. Furthermore, a trustee may be designated to manage a minor child’s assets until he or she reaches a specific age. It is worth noting that minor children are precluded from directly receiving money they inherit, so either a trust must be in place or a guardian of the property must be designated to manage the assets until such time as the beneficiary is at least no longer a minor.
While many young people may not have a high net worth, it is still important to have advanced directives and a Last Will and Testament in place, especially if you have minor children. Designating a trustworthy guardian in a Will to care for your child can help avoid costly litigation and provide you with peace of mind. It is important to speak with an experienced attorney in order to execute adequate and comprehensive advanced directives. In addition, it is important to remember that these documents, as well as a Will, should be periodically updated to reflect major life changes.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, and Sweeney are experienced New Jersey elder law and estate planning attorneys. The firm helps individuals and their families handle all aspects of elder law, including the execution of advanced directives, updating directives to reflect life and estate planning changes, execution of a Will, end-of-life planning, asset preservation, Medicaid planning, and trusts and estates issues. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers are trusted by their clients to handle each legal matter with diligence and compassion. For more information, contact our New Jersey estate planning law firm at (973) 256-0456.