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Estate planning is a good idea for Florida's young people, too

Many Florida residents don't think about executing a will until they are past retirement age - or when they have children, at the earliest. But the uncomfortable truth is that no one knows when such a thing is going to become necessary. There are many good reasons for young people to begin the work of estate planning.

Many experts recommend that even college students fill out a living will and healthcare directive in case they should suddenly become incapacitated. Individuals over the age of 18 are considered adults, and legally their parents can't make healthcare decisions for them should the young person become unable to do so.

Other factors to consider are the young person's finances. Young, unmarried people who become incapacitated due to an accident or illness need someone to make decisions about their finances. If no one is appointed to do so, the court will have to appoint a guardian. This can be avoided through a durable power of attorney. This process gives legal authority to another person to make financial decisions on the person's behalf. In some states, power of attorney can be set up to go into effect upon a person's incapacity, but Florida does not provide for this so-called springing power of attorney. It's often a good idea to set up power of attorney for other situations as well, such as when a college student is out of the country for an extended period on a study abroad program.

It is important to note, however, that a power of attorney can be a dangerous thing when entrusted to the wrong hands. Florida residents who are considering setting up the basics of estate planning should do the proper amount of research.

Source: NBC News, "Even young adults should start estate planning," Sheyna Steiner, May 6, 2013

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