Do Graduates Need Estate Planning?

Do Graduates Need Estate Planning?

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Happy Graduation!!!  …Now what? Congratulations to all the newly-minted ADULTS out there! Whether you are entering the job market or going away to college, your future awaits. As Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes….” But do you have an estate plan?

When you turn 18, you are legally an adult and, as an adult, you have legal responsibilities. Even though you just got out of school, here is a little more food for thought: Be smart about social media.  Most employers and many colleges WILL google you. Clean up your outdated and inappropriate content, and evaluate your account settings. Also, think about designating someone to take control of your accounts in the event you are incapacitated or… worse. According to Oklahoma law, “the executor or administrator of an estate shall have the power, where otherwise authorized, to take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate any accounts of a deceased person on any social networking website, any microblogging or short message service website, or any e-mail service websites.”

Research and understand how student loans may affect you.  You do not want to be a defendant in a lawsuit for indebtedness when you grow up! Government loans are generally kinder and gentler than private loans – the interest rates are fixed, the rate of repayment is based on your income, and they are discharged upon your death. Private loans do not offer the same flexibility or protections that government loans do. Caveat emptor!  And note, the same warning applies to credit card offers!

Privacy laws prohibit financial institutions from disclosing account information and other private matters without your authorization. But what if you need help? A Power of Attorney allows you to authorize your parent (or other trusted adult) to manage your finances now and/or in the future, if necessary. When you no longer need a safety net, the POA can be revoked.  

Be prepared for medical emergencies.  Face it:  young adults are rather prone to car accidents, alcohol-related illness and injury, diseases like meningitis and mononucleosis, and mental health issues. So, be prepared! Privacy laws prohibit medical providers from disclosing information about your health without your authorization. This may be true even if you are still on your parents’ insurance policy.

A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate your parent (or other trusted adult) to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to do so for yourself. You can also state what kind of medical care you do or do not want in an Advance Directive (or Living Will).

The Medical POA gives your designee access to your medical records if you are incapacitated. If your capacity is in question, privacy laws will prevent disclosure. A HIPPA release allows you to authorize doctors to share diagnoses and treatment options with your parent (or other trusted adult), even in less serious situations.
If you would like advice about any of these estate planning concepts or the paperwork involved, we are here to help you at Miller & Johnson, PLLC.

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