As you probably know, most states have laws that teens come “of age” at 18. This means that even though you are Mom or Dad, your child is considered a legal adult and you will no longer have the same rights to access to his or her medical and financial records.
For many parents, this may be a worrisome reality. Many kids are very immature or uniformed when it comes to making major medical and financial decisions. They may also lack the discipline necessary for credit cards and spending. So what is a parent to do? Contact your Estate Planning Professional and work with your son or daughter on the following documents:
Medical Power of Attorney & Living Will
A Medical Power of Attorney means that your son or daughter can designate you as his or her healthcare representative should they become severely ill or incapacitated. Be sure that if he or she is attending collage out of state that the documents are drawn up by a professional in that state. The Medical Power of Attorney should also be partnered with a Living Will, which applies if he or she becomes terminally ill or permanently unconscious or another similar condition as defined by that state’s law. This gives parents peace of mind during a difficult or extremely stressful time.
Financial Power of Attorney
This document allows the agent you choose to step in for you to handle your financial decisions. This includes simple things like paying bills to managing retirement accounts, to large undertakings like operating your small business on your behalf. Your agent doesn’t need to be an attorney, an accountant or other expert, just someone you trust who has a good common sense about these types of choices and is very dependable. Many people elect their spouse or older children to assume this role for them, but you can even hire firms to do this for you. Learn more about Financial Powers of Attorney HERE.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows your son or daughter to choose you to act in their place should they become mentally or physically incapacitated. The difference between this document and other powers of attorney is its broader scope and the fact that it is in place until the signer’s death (or it is rescinded).
Another document, which is usually supplied by your doctor’s office, is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release. This maintains your son or daughter’s medical privacy and unless you are designated on this form, you may not be entitled to information about your child’s medical diagnosis or prognosis. Therefore, you’ll want to discuss adding your name to this form as well.
With these documents in place, you can send your child off to college, to their new job or even to travel the world knowing you have indeed done all you can to protect and to prepare them for the challenges and rewards that lay ahead for them.