Once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information. Learning you cannot see your college student’s grades without his/her permission can be mildly frustrating. But a medical emergency can take this frustration to a completely different level.
The following legal documents allow anyone, including a young adult, to name another person to make medical and financial decisions if someone is unable to make them for themself. The person(s) selected should be someone the young adult knows and trusts, and a candid discussion should occur now so they know what their wishes would be. These documents are not expensive, and everyone over the age of 18 should have them.
Parents may want to set an appointment with their attorney after each child’s 18th birthday and encourage other parents to do the same for their young adults. Having these documents in place does not mean anyone expects to use them, but everyone will be glad to have them should they be needed.
In the Event of Incapacity
- A Medical Power of Attorney gives another person legal authority to make health care decisions (including life and death decisions) if you are unable to make them for yourself.
- A Durable Power of Attorney gives another person legal authority to manage your assets without court interference. Your attorney can write it in such a way that it does not go into effect until you become incapacitated.
- HIPPA Authorizations give your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation with others, including family members and other loved ones.
In the Event of Death
- Most young adults do not have substantial assets, so a simple will is probably all that is needed at this time. It will let the young adult designate who should receive his/her assets and belongings in the event of death.