Your child has graduated from high school and the excitement of their first semester of college has begun. Like all parents, you worry about all the necessities. You hope your child will get along with their roommate. You hope they hang out with the right crowd and focus on their studies, although we all know there will be a decent amount of partying going on. You make sure you have bought them every possible item needed so they can survive in their dorm room. But, did you realize that your child is now 18 and an adult in the eyes of the law?
Once a child reaches 18, parents can no longer make health care or financial decisions for their children without legal authorization to do so.
If your child is injured or needs help with financial matters, a parent cannot speak with doctors or help the child with financial decisions without a power of attorney. It is extremely important that once a child reaches the age of 18, a durable power of attorney and health care surrogate are prepared.
Below are documents that are important for you to discuss with your child prior to leaving for college, traveling overseas on a trip, or living locally.
Durable Power of Attorney:
Designate and authorize someone to legally act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated.
This document may be effective from the moment your child signs it or you can specify that it be activated by a specific event. The problem with that approach, known as “springingpower” is that someone must decide when an individual has reached that state. Traditionally this requires a medical opinion, not suggested.
Designation of Healthcare Surrogate:
This document will allow you to designate who will make medical decisions when you are unable to do so yourself. (ie. if you get into a car accident and are not conscious to decide whether you should have surgery)
This document will allow doctors to talk with your agents and disclose your private information that would otherwise be restricted. (ie. medical records)
If you have a child that has turned 18, you should speak with an experienced South Florida estate planning attorney to prepare a “back-to-school” package including the above documents.
You should sit down with your child and discuss the necessity of appointing a representative to help them if they are ever injured or incapacitated. Your child should realize that they are now legally an adult and will need to authorize a parent if they want their parent's help to make financial and medical decisions.
Fore more information on successful South Florida estate planning, please contact The Hershey Law Firm, PA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at (954) 303-9468 to schedule your free consultation.