Why Legal Planning is Essential for Graduates and Young Adults

Graduates throwing their caps in the air while families anticipate the legal documents they will need as young adults
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As you celebrate your graduate's achievements, take a moment to discuss and plan for these legal essentials.

Graduations mark a significant milestone in a young person’s life, signifying the transition from childhood to adulthood. As students across New Mexico prepare to don their caps and gowns, it’s crucial to recognize that with this newfound adulthood comes new responsibilities—especially in legal terms.

For Alamogordo parents, it may be challenging to accept that at the age of 18, their children are seen as young adults in the eyes of the law, and parental authority diminishes significantly. This legal shift means that if an accident or illness incapacitates their child, parents no longer have the automatic right to make medical or financial decisions on their behalf without the proper legal documents in place.

What Legal Planning Is Necessary for Graduates and Young Adults?

When a child turns 18, they legally step into adulthood, which includes the ability to make independent decisions about their health, finances, and privacy. This transition often catches families off guard, highlighting the immediate need for essential legal documents to protect their young adult’s interests and ensure continuity in care and decision-making.

Here’s what every new adult and their family should consider:

1. Health Care Proxy/Medical Power of Attorney

This document is vital for allowing someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. It’s particularly crucial in situations where parents are divorced, ensuring that both have the legal authority to act when needed.

2. Durable Power of Attorney

A durable POA enables a designated individual, typically a parent, to manage financial matters if the Alamogordo young adult cannot do so themselves, covering aspects from banking transactions to managing investments.

3. HIPAA Authorization

This form gives specific people permission to access your medical records. For young adults, signing a HIPAA authorization allows parents or designated guardians to be involved in medical discussions and decisions. The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) has an online form that can be downloaded and signed.

4. Insurance Updates

Ensure that health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance policies cover your young adult, particularly if the graduate or young adult is attending college outside of New Mexico. Renter’s insurance and medical evacuation insurance might also be necessary, depending on their living situation and travel plans.

What Additional Documents May Be Needed for Alamogordo Graduates Starting College?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects a student’s educational records. A FERPA waiver lets parents access grades and financial records, an essential tool for those who continue to support their children through college. Each college or university will have their own form, so it’s best to inquire about the waiver at your student’s school. Read more in our article, Graduation Over? Time to Consider Legal Documents

Do Young Adults Need a Will or Trust?

While it may seem premature, having a will or trust can be crucial, especially if the young adult has assets. These legal tools help protect these assets and provide clear instructions on their management and distribution in unforeseen circumstances.  In addition, for young adults with special needs, a special needs trust will hold their assets while also protecting the individual’s access to essential government benefits. Read more about special needs trusts in our article: How Do Special Needs Trusts Work?

Why Young Adults are Embracing Legal Planning

Recent trends show that more young people, including those in Generation Z, which is anyone born between 1997 and 2012, are proactive about their estate planning.  According to a recent article from Forbes, “Why Gen-Z Is Suddenly Creating Wills And Trusts—And You Should Too,” several factors drive this shift.

  • Digital Assets: Many young adults own substantial digital assets, from cryptocurrencies to online businesses, necessitating management and protection.
  • Pandemic Awareness: The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the fragility of life, prompting many to prepare for unexpected circumstances.
  • Modern Family Dynamics: As family structures evolve, clear directives in estate planning ensure assets are distributed as intended.
  • Philanthropic Values: Young adults today often prioritize giving back, incorporating charitable giving into their estate plans.
  • Financial Literacy: There’s a growing openness among young people to discuss finances and the importance of safeguarding assets through estate planning.

Protect Your Graduate or Young Adult with Legal Planning Before They Leave Home

As you celebrate your graduate’s achievements, take a moment to discuss and plan for these legal essentials. Michele Ungvarsky of E-Law can provide personalized guidance to ensure your young adult is prepared for what lies ahead. Protecting their future starts with a simple conversation—request an initial call to learn how we can help safeguard your child’s new journey into adulthood.