Your 18-Year-Old Child Needs Estate Planning Documents

September 1, 2017Alerts

When your child turns 18, he or she is legally considered an adult in most states and you no longer have the right to make certain decisions or take certain actions on his or her behalf. This becomes especially important if your child leaves home for study or travel.

If your child needs health care, you won’t be entitled to access his or her medical information, particularly under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules. You no longer have rights to your child’s educational records. You likely will not be given access to your child’s information by financial institutions.

Here are three simple steps you can take to continue to be there for your child and help when needed.

  1. Ask your child to sign a health care proxy appointing you (or another adult the child trusts) to make medical decisions in the event your child is unable to do so. This proxy should include HIPAA language authorizing disclosure of medical information.
  2. Ask your child to sign a general durable power of attorney appointing you (or another adult the child trusts) to act as his or her agent for non-medical matters, such as banking transactions or signing a lease.
  3. If your child has substantial assets in his or her name, ask your child to sign a will, directing who should inherit those assets in the unlikely event of his or her death. In most states, in the absence of a will, the assets of any adult (without a spouse or children) pass to that person’s parents, which could negatively affect your own estate plan.

These documents do not need to be complicated, but can be invaluable in helping your child while he or she is still in the process of becoming an independent adult.

For assistance in preparing these documents, or if you have any questions about these issues, please contact your Fox Rothschild estate planning attorney.