If your child recently turned 18 or is about to, congratulations on making it to an important milestone in your life as a parent! You are undoubtedly busy preparing with bittersweet emotions, knowing your child will soon receive a diploma, having survived the arduous process of applying for colleges and navigating the challenges of high school during the pandemic. Now you may be helping him or her prepare for life as an adult, getting ready to leave home to pursue education and career goals. However, you may not have realized that once your child becomes a legal adult, many areas that were once under your control are now solely up to him or her.
Previously, you had access to your child’s financial accounts and had the power to make all health care decisions. After he or she turns 18, however, you’re no longer able to do either. So, before your kids head out into the world, you should discuss and have them sign the following estate planning documents so if they become incapacitated, you can easily access their medical records and financial accounts without having to go to court:
1. Durable Power of Attorney. In the event your child becomes incapacitated, you’ll need a durable power of attorney to access financial accounts and take care of legal matters, such as paying bills, applying for benefits, or managing other financial matters on his or her behalf. If you do not have a signed, financial durable power of attorney, you’ll have to go to court to get access.
- Advance Health Care Directive. While it is tough to think about, if your child suffers from a serious health issue or becomes incapacitated due to an accident or illness, having an advance health care directive in place will allow you to make crucial life or death decisions and provide guidance as to whether your child wants life support removed if he or she ever requires it.
HIPAA Authorization. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or “HIPAA” requires health care providers and insurance companies to protect the privacy of a patient’s health records. Once your child becomes 18, not even parents are legally authorized to access his or her medical records without prior written permission. By having your child sign a HIPPA authorization, you will have the authority to access his or her medical records, which could be critical if you ever need to make informed decisions about your child’s medical care.
Having these documents in place will ensure that if your child ever needs your help and guidance, you’ll have the legal authority to easily provide it. Gently talk to your young adult before they leave the nest to help them articulate and legally protect their wishes. Then send them off with peace of mind, knowing you will be able to help if you are needed.
For assistance with these estate planning documents, give Susan Dallas Hattan a call at 949-285-4270.
Post By By Susan Dallas Hattan, Esq.