Once your child turns 18 years old, he or she is no longer a “child” and technically is an “adult” in the eyes of the law. At 18 a person gains the ability to marry without parental consent, vote, serve on a jury, and hold assets in their own name. You, as a parent, however, loose the automatic ability to make financial and health care decisions for your child. If something were to happen to your child and he or she needed someone to step in and make financial or medical decisions for them, a guardianship proceeding would be required in order to provide you with legal authority to make those decisions for your child. A guardianship proceeding can be a slow, long and expensive process, and at a minimum, create a 60-day waiting period before you can help your child. To avoid the time and expense of dealing with the court system, upon turning 18, it is our recommendation that your child execute at least the following legal documents:
Durable Power of Attorney. This document allows your child to appoint an Agent (usually you as the parent) to step in and make financial decisions on your child’s behalf. This document is generally effective immediately, allowing the parent to continue to assist in the management of their child’s finances, and obtain information (such as college transcripts).
Health Care Power of Attorney. This document allows your child to appoint an Agent (again, usually you, as the parent) to step in and make health care decisions if your child is unable to do so for themselves. This typically also includes HIPPA Release Authorization, where your child authorizes health care professionals to release his/her medical information to another person (you). With this document, you can get the doctor, hospital, or student health center to talk to you about your child and if necessary you can make health care decisions on behalf of your child when they are unable to make informed health care decisions.
In addition to the powers attorney identified above, since your child is a legal adult, he or she can also execute a Last Will and Testament and Health Care Directive.
If you are interested in helping your newly adult child prepare the above documents, feel free to contact us.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice from Leos & Gilkerson, PLLC or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed lawyer.