Broker Check

The Aspects of Estate Planning Your Adult Children Should Know About

December 11, 2023


A critical component of estate planning is documenting your wishes in the event of incapacitation during your lifetime, and clients often ask when their adult children should engage in estate planning. Because an unexpected illness or injury can happen at any age, all adults over age 21 should consider putting several basic estate planning documents in place. The next step after creating these documents is to share copies and discuss them with loved ones, including spouses, parents, or children who may be named in the documents as trustees, executors, or guardians.

No matter your age, the following documents are essential to ensuring your wishes are followed and your family is protected in the event of your incapacity or death. These should be reviewed with your adult children any time they’re updated, potentially due to marriage, births, divorce, and the accumulation of property and other assets.

  • Power of attorney gives you the power to appoint a trusted family member or friend as an agent to manage your finances in the event of your incapacity or death.
  • Last will and testament directs how your property will be distributed when you die and can create trusts for the benefit or your spouse or children. A will allows you to name a person you trust to oversee the management and distribution of your assets and to appoint a guardian to care for your minor children. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to a statutory formula and a court may decide guardianship for your minor children, which may conflict with your desires.
  • Medical power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted family member or friend to make medical decisions for you in the event you become unconscious or mentally incapacitated.
  • HIPAA authorization allows you to name an individual(s) who can have access to your medical information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a federal law that sets rules and limits on who can look at your medical records or receive your health information.
  • Living will, or directive to physicians, is a document that allows you to instruct your physicians not to use artificial methods to extend your life in the event you’re diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition.

Our free resource, A Peace of Mind Checklist, outlines key estate information and provides a simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-share document for all of your estate and final wishes. Download it for free here: Peace of Mind Checklist

Many clients ask for helpful tips or education that they can share with their adult children on managing finances, estate planning, and what they need to know as beneficiaries. We can always meet together with your family to discuss your estate planning wishes and your children’s role in them.


The broker-dealers of Cetera and their affiliated financial advisors do not provide legal advice. Please consult a legal professional regarding your specific situation.