Estate planning comes into play when your child graduates from high school and heads off to college or starts a full-time job or vocational training program.
Although they’re still your children, the law sees them as are adults. As a result, parents’ “rights” to protect their adult children or make decisions for them immediately becomes quite limited and estate planning becomes an issue for them.
The Tewksbury Town Crier’s recent article, “Is your child turning 18? Here’s what you need to know,” explains that people often have an estate planning attorney draft the appropriate documents, so they will be legal and binding. Let’s look at a list of estate planning documents to consider and discuss with your young adult:
- HIPAA Authorization: if your 18-year-old has a job in another state or will be attending college and needs medical records or assistance making appointments, ask her to go to the doctor’s and dentist’s office and sign forms that designate agents to act on her behalf. Due to HIPAA laws, information can’t be released without the adult child’s permission.
- Healthcare Proxy: Have your 18-year old complete this document, make a copy, put a copy on each parent or guardian’s phone and put a copy on your child’s phone. This is for an emergency, like when the child can’t speak for herself. However, don’t wait for an emergency. If your child is at college, the school will only contact you as the emergency contact, but the proxy is between you and the hospital and includes mental health issues. A healthcare proxy lets you to participate in life and death decisions, should your child not be able to advocate for herself. This is a standard estate planning document.
- Durable Power of Attorney: A general durable power of attorney or financial power of attorney must also be signed by the 18-year old, designating his parents, guardians, or others as agents authorized to act on his behalf. This allows the agent access to financial information, so that he can participate in the financial issues with a university or business in the event that the child cannot.
- FERPA: This is an educational records release, which allows the educational institution to share grades, transcripts and other related materials with parents or designated agents. Without it, the school will not provide you with access to any information.
Finally, besides estate planning, encourage your young adult family member to register to vote.
Reference: Tewksbury Town Crier (December 8, 2019) “Is your child turning 18? Here’s what you need to know”