What documents do young adults need?
It’s hard to believe that when your child turns 18 years old, he or she is legally an adult. When a child reaches this milestone, the mother and father’s parental rights have terminated. This means that if the child experiences a medical emergency, the parent may not be able to help or even receive information on the child’s well being without the property authority.
A parent loses parental rights over their children due to a number of privacy laws. One important law is FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which restricts the information a school can release about an adult student. The other is HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which limit those to whom health care providers can release data.
The privacy laws do have a valid purpose, which is to allow young adults to visit doctors and make independent health care decisions about their bodies. However, most parents want to be able to support their children in the case of an emergency without having to petition a court to allow it. Once a child learns how the law operates, and learns of the potential ramifications of not having a power of attorney, her or she is likely to want the parent to assist them in the event of an emergency.
Without a power of attorney a parent may be unable to even discuss a child’s condition with a doctor. It is not uncommon to hear of parents frantically calling an emergency room to get an update on an unconscious child’s condition, only to be told they are not allowed to talk with the doctor. If a child is not able to give consent, and there is no power of attorney, the doctors will most likely not speak to a parent about the child’s health care. No family wants to go through a Terri Schaivo situation, where the family spent years fighting for the control of Schiavo’s health care.
So what estate-planning documents do a young adult to prevent these nightmare scenarios from happening?
The first document the child needs is a health care power of attorney, which gives the child the authority to name a person, most likely the parent; to make medical decisions for him or her is he is not capable of giving consent. The child may also need a property or durable power of attorney. This type of document will allow someone else to manage the child’s financial life if he or she is not able to do so. Most young adults do not possess many assets, however, there are some times when this power of attorney could be useful. One example is when a child is traveling abroad and needs money transferred to him out of his account. Another good example is when the child needs the parent to hire an attorney for him or her.
Some 18 year olds may resist the idea of naming someone in a power of attorney, as this can seem like an intrusion on their adulthood and privacy. It might be a good idea to let the child meet with an estate-planning attorney here in Florida to explain how valuable the documents could be for his or her well being. It is not necessary that a parent be named in the documents, and a child can always amend these documents later in life. As you are planning for your child to enter or return to college, it may be time to prepare in case the unexpected happens. For more information on how to obtain a power of attorney, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman today.