This month, schools everywhere are wrapping up one of the most challenging school years in history. Although the 2020 – 2021 school year started with chaos, fear, and virtual learning, it is thankfully ending with vaccinations, hope, and children returning to the classroom. As the school year ends, seniors across the country are graduating high school. While high school graduation is a milestone for both parents and teens to celebrate, it also comes with the milestone of becoming a legal adult.
When a child turns 18, they become a legal adult, and your parental legal rights change. Should an accident or illness occur, as their parent, you no longer have automatic authority over any decisions that need to be made. You may find yourself unable to assist your child with medical, financial, property, or benefits decisions. Often, you will not even be able to access your child’s medical data or financial accounts without a court order.
As soon as your child turns 18, and is legally able to make decisions, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you and your child, put necessary legal documents in place. There are several basic estate planning documents that can ensure your ability to access medical information about your child and make medical decisions if they ever become incapacitated. These documents can also ensure your ability to manage their finances and pursue litigation if needed. While every family’s situation is different, the following legal documents are a great place to start.
General Power of Attorney
Powers of Attorney are one of the most basic and yet most important estate planning tools. This legal document will allow your child to assign a person or establishment to handle their affairs if they are unable to do so. The Power of Attorney can be created to spring into action as soon as your child becomes incapacitated or be effective immediately.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney will allow your child to specify someone to be able to make medical decisions for them should they become incapacitated. One of the main purposes of this legal document is for your child to legally empower someone to act as their medical advocate should they become sick or injured.
A living will is an advanced directive that will allow your child to provide detailed instructions for how they want their medical care decisions made. Among other things, they may specify their wishes for which medical treatments to receive and for how long if they want to be placed on life support if they want to receive tube feeding, and in the event of their death if they want their organs donated.
Parisi, Coan, and Saccocio, PLLC has over 100 years combined experience in estate planning, administration of client’s wishes after passing, and representing litigants in cases of disputed estate matters. If you have further questions, please contact us for a free consultation at (914) 228-7448.