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Power of attorney is important for everyone - even young adults

Many Michigan residents may think that estate planning is something that only older Americans need to worry about. This type of thinking can come from the view that an estate plan's main purpose is to distribute a person's assets after they die. While there is some truth to that view, there are many more components of an estate plan that need to be considered. And, as a recent article pointed out, young people - even 18-year-olds - would probably benefit from having at least a basic estate plan in place.

The article noted that one type of document that could have special significance for young adults is the power of attorney. While older individuals may place their focus on what happens to their property and other assets when they die, young adults who have a power of attorney drafted would be narrowing down their focus on what could happen in their lives.

Powers of attorney are intended to help an individual plan for a debilitating situation, where they are unable to make choices for themselves. In Michigan, there are two different types of documents in this category that should be included in an estate plan: the durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney.

A durable power of attorney is most likely the more familiar of the two for Michigan residents. This type will designate someone to oversee a person's financial affairs in the event that person becomes incapacitated - whether it is due to some tragic accident or the sudden onset of a medical condition. Having this document in place will ensure that a responsible individual is in place to make sure financial obligations are met.

The health care power of attorney also appoints a designated individual, but in this case the individual acts as a patient advocate - empowered to make decisions regarding medical care in the event that the person who drafted the power of attorney is unable to do so. Discussions between the person drafting the document and the person to be appointed as patient advocate will be a key step in informing the patient advocate exactly what type of medical treatment may or may not be acceptable.

Source: GreenBayPressGazette.com, "Carissa Giebel column: Young adults should look at estate planning," Carissa Giebel, Dec. 30, 2013

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