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What Are The Necessary Estate Planning Documents Needed When You Reach The Age Of 18, and Why?

For  parents of children reaching the age of 18, there are some unique challenges in store.

Why is this important?

What Are The Necessary Estate Planning Documents Needed When You Reach The Age Of 18, and Why? Once your child turns 18, you will no longer have the right to make medical or financial decisions on his or her behalf, regardless of the fact that you may be paying tuition, carrying him or her on your medical and or auto insurance and providing other financial assistance. Therefore, every adult, including your college-age child, should have, at minimum, a current Healthcare Surrogate, Living Will, HIPPA Authorization form, and Durable Power of Attorney to establish health care decisions as well as a legal way to keep financial matters in place. These documents allow your adult child to appoint someone trusted to make medical and financial decisions on his or her behalf in the event he or she is unable to do so (even temporarily). If your child has assets in his or her name, a will or revocable trust may also be appropriate.

Whether a routine surgery is needed or something catastrophic occurs, the Healthcare Surrogate and Durable Powers of Attorney will ensure medical decisions are made and financial transactions are carried out seamlessly and without lengthy, expensive court proceedings. Whether your college student is studying online or in a faraway location, they move away to attend college, or are embarking out on their own, with a little planning, you can ensure his or her immediate needs can be met if and when life gets off track.

Healthcare Surrogate for health care decisions/Living Will: This is simply a document that states an individual’s desires concerning health care treatment, including “heroic” measures such as artificial nutrition and hydration, and resuscitation, in the event a qualified physician determines that the individual is either in a “terminal” medical condition or is unlikely to regain consciousness. The document also designates one or more agents who are authorized to consent to, or direct the withholding of, health care measures. These agents can also access the individual’s medical records and speak with the medical providers, which can give a parent peace of mind should something happen to his or her adult child.

Durable power of attorney for general financial matters: This designates one or more individuals, having broad powers relative to financial, business and other transactions. Customarily, these durable powers of attorney for  children are immediately effective. The adult child designates a parent or other trusted individual as the “attorney-in-fact” to make financial and related decisions on his or her behalf, pay bills and deal with landlords. A durable power of attorney that is effective immediately can also allow a parent to access the adult child’s college financial records and manage student loans.

HIPPA Authorization forms,  allow the adult child to designate those they wish to be able to obtain medical information pertaining to their health condition in the event they are unable to apprise anyone themselves. HIPPA authorizes the release of information only, as in status, tests performed, and activities of daily living the adult child is undergoing. People chosen by the adult child to receive such information is just that, information only. No One listed on a HIPPA authorization form has the power to make any decisions pertaining to the adult child. This was particularly important in the times of COVID, as visitors were often banned from visiting loved ones in the hospital and their only source of information and medical status was relayed typically telephonically and only to those the adult child authorized to receive such information.

There is never a better time to sign durable powers of attorney than right now — well before they are ever needed or the unexpected takes place. While this is always true, the continued presence of COVID-19 makes it more relevant than ever. The peace of mind and protection these simple yet powerful documents offer make them well worth the minimal costs incurred to create them.

Read more related articles at:

Two Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Sign



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