It is a right of passage for young adults in Salem to fly the proverbial nest and make their way in the world. Many young adults take advantage of this time in life to focus on their careers and engage in hobbies and travel. Their future is exciting. However, does a young adult who is unmarried and has no children need to think about something as serious as estate planning?

The fact is that estate planning is important for people at any stage in life. A young adult who is unmarried and has no children will still want to have several key estate planning documents: a durable power of attorney for healthcare, a durable power of attorney for finances, a will and possibly accounts with beneficiaries.

A durable power of attorney for healthcare gives a person’s family the ability to make medical decisions for the person if the person becomes incapacitated. Similarly, a durable power of attorney for finances gives a person’s family the ability to make financial decisions for the person if the person becomes incapacitated. The unfortunate fact is that even young people can suffer ill health or be involved in an accident that keeps them from being able to make their own decisions; therefore, powers of attorney are important.

In addition, as sad as it is, young adults are not guaranteed to live to an old age. Thus, having a will that distributes their assets to their loved ones is important. Without a will, if the young adult passes away, their assets will be distributed per state intestacy laws, which may or may not align with their wishes. In addition, if a young person has life insurance or retirement accounts, they will want to make sure they have updated beneficiaries on these accounts.

As a young adult’s life changes, so will their estate planning needs. However, young adults should not ignore estate planning entirely. Ultimately, young adults will want to make sure they at least have a basic estate plan that addresses the distribution of their assets should they die and that specifies who they want to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. Attorneys in Massachusetts understand how important estate planning is at any stage of life, and they may be a useful resource.