By Rebecca A. Gardner –
Teenagers often think that they are invincible. Indeed, even some of the forty-somethings and fifty-somethings that consult with me about their estate plans are convinced that death is a lifetime away from them. Nevertheless, estate planning is important for all of us who are over the age of 18.
As soon as we turn 18, the law considers us to be adults, even if our parents don't think of us that way. That adult classification means that certain information about our finances and our health are protected from the eyes and ears of another – even the eyes and ears of parents and other loved ones. This can make it difficult for parents to obtain information about their adult children in cases of a child's incapacity and this difficulty can lead to unnecessary frustration and unnecessary costs.
Rather than risk the need for a conservatorship – however temporary – I recommend that everyone over the age of 18 have at least a financial power of attorney and an advance health care directive in place to appoint agents to act for you in case of incapacity. These two straightforward documents can help avoid the unnecessary and expensive process of going to court to appoint a conservator for you in case of your incapacity.