Younger people in Lancaster County who are just starting out in life might not see much of a need for a will or other estate planning documents.
After all, they will usually have relatively modest property to worry about should they suddenly die or just not be able to care for it. Their children may also be very young and not terribly concerned about their inheritance.
Also, the thought of a serious illness, declining health and death might seem like useless worrying about things that may not come to pass for decades.
But the reality is that a Pennsylvania resident of any age can suffer a severe injury or illness. Even if a young person survives, they might not ever recover the ability to take care of themselves or their children.
A will is a great opportunity to arrange for guardianship over minor children
For young parents, estate planning is a good opportunity to make arrangements for the care of their minor children.
Even if two parents expect that if one dies, the other will continue to raise the kids, a car accident or other disaster can leave children without a clear legal caregiver.
Pennsylvania law allows most parents, if they are the only surviving parent, to nominate a personal guardian of their children in a will. This guardian would be responsible for caring for the child in place of that parent should that parent die.
While the nomination does not mean that the parent’s choice will be accepted, it still carries great weight. Any parent who is the only surviving parent of minor children should strongly consider nominating a guardian in case of their unexpected death.
There are also many situations in which a parent will want to nominate a guardian, if only on a just-in-case basis, even if the other legal parent is alive.
Younger people can use estate planning as a way to prepare for disability
Even if a younger person does not yet own a lot of property, their disability can still cause significant legal issues in the absence of estate planning.
For example, without a power of attorney or other advance directives, the family may have no power to manage a person’s financial affairs or make critical healthcare decisions for that person.
There also may even be some questions over who should care for the person’s children.