As the school season returns, parents and children are buying pencils, pens, notebooks, and dorm room and other supplies to prepare for the year to come. However, not many parents’ school supply lists consist of a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney for their 18-year-old. Most of the time these two estate planning documents are associated with the elderly. However, a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney can be some of the most important “school supplies” for young adults.
A General Durable Power of Attorney, sometimes called a Financial Power of Attorney, is a written legal document authorizing an individual (agent) to act on another’s (principal) behalf with regard to financial matters. A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorizes an agent to deal with health care providers and may state an individual’s decisions with regard to life-sustaining treatment and other health care decisions. A Health Care Power of Attorney also provides the agent with access to the principal’s medical records and information.
An 18-year-old child is an adult in all respects in the eyes of the law. That means that parents no longer have the authority to manage their child’s money or make health care decisions for their child once the child turns 18. Therefore, if the child gets into an accident and becomes incapacitated, a parent might need to go through the court system to be appointed as the child’s guardian and conservator in order to make health and financial decisions for their child (or even simply get health records and information), if no powers of attorney were signed before the accident.
In order to avoid the pain, hassle, and expense of going through the court system to be appointed as the child’s guardian and conservator if something should happen, take the steps now to make sure your 18-year-old has a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney in place, so your child is truly prepared to start the school year off right.