Having your new young adult execute a few simple legal documents on or shortly after their eighteenth birthday helps prepare the family for unexpected life-threatening situations. It also provides an opportunity to instill the importance of estate planning throughout their adult life. The following documents provide a solid first step:
Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney
This document designates parents, jointly or severally, as the child’s agent for all medical matters. Note: the “Durable” nature of this Power of Attorney is necessary, and the document must expressly permit its use when the child is incapacitated. It should give the agents express authority to sign HIPAA-compliant medical information release forms.
Living Will / Advance Healthcare Directive
This important document will make known your child’s wishes with regard to implementation, continuation, and withdrawal of life-prolonging medical treatments in cases where the patient is unresponsive and has a terminal illness or injury. This will help ensure the quality of life that is important to your child and avoid having you, as parents, “guess” those wishes or having to make critical medical care decisions under stress or in emotional turmoil. Note: this is an important personal decision that should include a lot of discussion and soul-searching.
General Durable Power of Attorney
This document designates parents, jointly or severally, as the child’s agent for all personal and financial matters. Note: again, the “Durable” nature of this Power of Attorney is necessary and the document must expressly permit its use when the child is incapacitated. The document should include several expressly stated powers, such as dealing with the Social Security Administration, tax returns, making gifts, accessing safety deposit boxes, transferring property to a trust, and signing checks.
In addition to retaining executed copies in one or more readily-accessible locations, copies of the Healthcare POA and Advanced Healthcare Directive should be provided to your family physician and local hospital in advance. They will be placed into the files and records for quicker access in the event of an emergency.
If you would like more information on estate planning for your adult child, please contact your relationship manager or a member of our Wealth Planning Team at 303.531.8100.