As college acceptance letters begin to roll in, many young students are starting to plan for their future. Transitioning from child to adult may take many years emotionally, but legally speaking, it happens when children turn eighteen (18) years of age.
For most parents, the notion of losing the ability to assist their children with their finances or medical decisions can be daunting. As you begin to teach your children about fiscal responsibility, consider working with an estate planner to have your children execute a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney so that you may assist them while they are away.
Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney allows another person to step into your child’s shoes to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf. Although commonly these documents are thought of as a method for planning for incapacity, they can also be drafted to allow someone to assist your child in the event they are unavailable. For newly minted college students, this means that if your child decides to name you as their attorney-in-fact, you can assist them with banking or handling other affairs while they are away at college or studying abroad.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney appoints a health care agent to make medical decisions in the event your child is no longer able to make decisions on his or her own behalf. The document often waives the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so that the named health care agent can access your child’s medical records.
The document can also express your child’s wishes for the administration of life support, nutrition and hydration, in the event that they are in a permanent vegetative state with no reasonable hope for recovery, or in an end stage condition. The document can also include provisions for organ donation.
Importance of Planning Ahead
Although execution of the documents and choosing agents is ultimately a decision for your child, you can educate your teen on the importance of planning for his or her future. It is never easy to think about your child facing a medical, financial or legal emergency, but planning for the future can make the situation more manageable. It can also give you some peace of mind sending your child out into the world on his or her own for the first time.
Kerri M. Castellini, Esquire has dedicated her career to practicing estates and trusts. She advises clients in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and is the estates and trusts partner. More information regarding her practice and her contact information can be found at trustandestateslawyers.com.