People of all ages have the potential to recognize the possible benefits of estate planning but one that is often overlooked is when parents send their new 18-year olds off to college campuses in the fall without completing the appropriate estate planning steps.
A great time to think about estate planning is now as many students are nearing graduation and will be spending the summer getting ready for their new college experience. It can be difficult for parents to understand that legally children now have the ability to make decisions for themselves and that parents are not automatically opted in to health care and important medical decisions once the child has reached age 18. It’s a good opportunity to have an estate planning conversation with your teenager while he or she still lives at home.
These documents, like advanced directives, name people who are capable of making financial, medical, business and legal decisions in the event of incapacity. This means that people of all ages can use these tools to their benefit. If a child age 18 or older is injured in an accident or falls ill and is no longer able to communicate on their own or make decisions for themselves, the primary risk is a need for guardianship hearing to appoint another person. Usually as a parent, you would need to hire an attorney to file a petition with the court, asking for the judge to formally appoint the parent as the child’s legal guardian.
In emergency situations, the opportunity to do this can seem overwhelming and can add further delays unnecessarily. A power of attorney, however, enables a parent to make business, financial, and legal decisions on behalf of the child if and when that document needs to be exercised. Schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney today to discuss this option.