There comes a time in every parent's life when their teenager officially becomes an adult. Many of those parents are sending their 18-year-olds off to college this fall. (And truly, I am frightened about this event, which will happen in 5 years for me.)
I'm going to tell you the 3 major documents that you should MAKE SURE your child has executed as soon as she turns 18, and before she goes away to college. These documents won't only protect her in the event of an emergency, but they will also pave the way for a future of financial and legal savviness. It is important to get your adult child into the habit of consulting professionals when they have important changes i their lives. When you consider the dismal rates of financial intelligence among high school students, it makes so much sense to instill that responsibility now.
Here are the three documents your 18-year-old child needs:
1) Advance Directive/Living Will/Healthcare Power of Attorney/Healthcare Proxy.
Your child should name a person to make their healthcare decisions for them if they are incapacitated, and outline any healthcare wishes they have. The default is that both mom and dad have the authority to make healthcare decisions for the child. This can be just peachy, but if mom and dad have any disagreements, any decisions could end up in court.
2) HIPAA Release.
Your child needs to sign a HIPAA release, so that if she is incapacitated, you are able to access her medical and school records to make healthcare, financial, and education decisions for her. If you don't have a HIPAA release, you may need a court order to access any of this information.
3) Durable Power of Attorney.
Your child needs to execute a Durable Power of Attorney, so that you can deal with any of her finances if she is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make those decisions for herself. (I have clients whose daughter executed a DPA so that her parents could file her tax return while she was studying abroad.) Again, if you don't have a DPA, you may need a court order to access bank accounts and school records if she's incapacitated.
These documents are the start of a healthy and strong financial life. Call your estate planning attorney today to talk about these issues.
To your family's health & prosperity,
P.S. Want to get started on the most important planning you'll ever do for your family? Give our office a call at (503) 235-5150 to get started. You'll be glad you did.