It’s an amazing time when high school graduates move onto college. We celebrate the major achievement of completing the academic rigors of high school. Most young people turn 18 around high school graduation time. The achievement of the status of legal adulthood is commensurate with the high school graduation. However, in many cases, the young adult is still in need of support of guidance from his or her parents or trusted grown-ups and mentors.
As adults, it seems we must manage our lives independently. However, we can be interdependent. Young adults have the right to privacy but have the choice to create their own support systems. As adults, there is a legal right to privacy that must be exempted for support. In general, I advise that we should have our first estate plan at the age of 18 due to the legal status achieved. We always pray for the best and plan for the crisis.
Even in the best of times, young adults can benefit from support and wisdom of a parent or mentor. When a young person goes to college, “adulting” is often modified. There is often the support of room and board while given the freedom to make many more decisions away from the parent or guardian home. The right to privacy is granted to everyone at the age of 18. Parents cannot access the information of their children based on the relationship.
The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records. For students over the age of 18, a FERPA waiver should be a standard part of the total estate plan.
I have stated many times that the foundational estate plan should answer 3 questions: 1. What happens when you die? 2. What happens if you cannot manage your decisions independently? 3. What is the legacy you choose to leave?
We do not ever want to consider the thought of young people passing away. However, it happens. Considering the question of what happens upon death is scary, especially when thinking about a young life. Unfortunately, it happens. The legal steps necessary to manage the catastrophic happening can be more effectively facilitated with a last will and testament in place. I have had the sad experience of supporting families through the unthinkable after car accidents when a police statement is sought. The additional steps that were necessary due to an intestate (when there is no will) status complicates the process. With the extreme grief of loss of a young life, fighting through any additional layers can be overwhelming.
Young adults are often confronted with situations that go beyond their wisdom, not due to lack of intelligence but lack of life experience and resources. Their right to privacy does not allow parents or supporters to intervene without legal authority. The power of attorney allows trusted people to be appointed to act for them and/or with them. This appointment can be as broad or specific as necessary to provide comfort. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) waiver and health care proxy appoints someone to be able to speak on behalf of another for health care decisions. These documents accompanied by the FERPA waiver allow the trusted person the ability and authority to advocate for young people.
Legacy building should be intentional. The achievement is derived from the intention. We would love the opportunity to partner with you to build your legacy to affect future generations.