When you turn 18 years old, you becomes a legally an independent adult. Your parents no longer have any legal authority over you. Do you need an estate plan? Instead of “estate plan,” think of an “emergency plan.” What will happen in an emergency of some kind? Who will take care of things if you are in a major accident, or struck by a serious illness, or if you should pass away? How should you prepare for such an emergency?

IF YOU ARE DISABLED: MEDICAL DECISIONS

If you have a serious, disabling accident or illness, and cannot make your own medical decisions, who will make those for you? Now that you are an adult, your parents no longer have that right. Therefore, you should sign a Patient Advocate Designation, authorizing some person (typically your parents) to (a) obtain private, protected medical information about you, and (b) make decisions regarding your medical care.

IF YOU ARE DISABLED; MANAGING YOUR MONEY

If you have a serious, disabling accident or illness, who would pay your bills? You should consider signing a Durable Power of Attorney, appointing somebody to act on your behalf in any legal matter, to take care of any legal or financial matter for your benefit. The person you name could sign checks for you, transfer title on your car, add his or her name to your bank account, prepare your taxes, receive your tax refund or any other money that is owed to you, or do anything else that you need.

WHAT IF YOU DIE? DISTRIBUTING YOUR ASSETS

You can direct the distribution of your assets in a Will, but a Will has to go to probate court. You can avoid probate by arranging that each of your assets automatically goes to your parents, or whoever else you choose, upon your death. Each asset must be handled differently.Any savings or checking account can be made “POD” or “Pay on Death” to somebody. Talk to someone at the bank or credit union and ask them to do that for you. (Some banks call it a “TOD” designation, or “Transfer on Death.”)If you own a car or truck, the Michigan Secretary of State has a simple way to transfer ownership of a vehicle in case of death. Your “next of kin” can go to the Secretary of State office with a death certificate, complete a Certificate of Heir to a Vehicle (Form TR-29), and have the title transferred into their name.

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR “STUFF”?

Unless you specify a different distribution in a Will, your “stuff” (the legal term is “tangible personal property”, which means you furniture, dishes, clothes, musical instruments, artwork, etc.) will go to your “heirs at law.” Your heirs at law are (a) your spouse, if any, then (b) your children, if any, then (c) your parents.