Legal Implications When Your Child Turns 18
Parents always think of their children as their children. DSM Law wishes to remind our clients and their families that their child is considered an adult at the age of 18. It is unbelievable how quickly children grow up. Bittersweet, I say from one parent to another.
As you venture down this new path, there are important legal implications that need to be discussed with your 18-year-old, to ensure they are prepared and protected as independent adults. Critical to understanding, is that your adult child must now give their written consent for a parent or guardian to gain access to financial and medical records. Without these documents, significant legal challenges and roadblocks will prevent anyone from acting on behalf of the adult in the event of an emergency. This can delay important medical treatment or financial decisions.
There are two important and proactive documents to discuss with your 18-year old child:
A Durable Power of Attorney
What will happen if your child is injured, incapacitated or mentally unable to make financial or business decisions? Also known as a Financial Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney designates someone your child trusts to make financial and business decisions on their behalf. If they are a young unmarried adult, this is an especially important document in the event of their incapacity.
Health Care Surrogate
Also called a Medical Power of Attorney, this appoints another person to make medical decisions in the event your adult child is unable to communicate his or her wishes. A Health Care Surrogate is a legal document for anyone over the age of 18 in which you designate a trusted person to gain access to your personal health records. The Health Care Surrogate may also receive information about your condition that otherwise would be withheld due to HIPAA privacy regulations. It also appoints a person you choose to make all the decisions relating to your care and comfort in the event of your incapacity. Assigning a health care surrogate is well worth the effort when you know you are taking care of your family by stating your wishes and eliminating unnecessary legal delays.
Life gets busy. There is a flurry of activity with a child turning 18, including going to college or getting a job, moving and getting their own home. Important legal discussions are not always top of mind. It can be a challenge to take the time to sit down and plan for the unforeseen. Avoiding these discussions today can turn into a legal headache tomorrow when the future is unknown, and help is needed.
We encourage parents to take time to educate their children about these life-saving documents when all is well. This proactive step is the best plan of protection for your family, ensuring you can care for your loved ones or they can care for you. Achieve peace of mind for you and your family by drafting and signing the legal documents today.
DSM Law understands the importance of having signed Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate on file. We provide guidance in filling out and finalizing these documents for our clients with 18-year olds. Call today 561-352-8488 to discuss options for your young adult.
We are here to help you as life happens.