Your Child Is Becoming An Adult: Are You Prepared?
When you have a child, for you as a parent to take care of the child, and make decisions for the child, there is really nothing that you need to do, legally, to make that happen. You are the legal parent and guardian of your child, and if anything were to happen to your minor child, or the child were to become temporarily or permanently incapacitated, you, as the parent, would have every right to speak for, make financial and medical decisions for, and manage the affairs of, your child’s life.
The Adult Child
But don’t make the same mistake that so many parents make. Their child turns 18, and they assume that the same rules hold true. They do not.
Many parents are stunned when their 18 or 19 or 20 year old child ends up incapacitated, and suddenly the child’s college won’t speak to the parent, the bank won’t speak to the parent, or the doctors won’t speak to the parent (or let the parent make major decisions for the child).
You, as the parent, are trying to maintain the child’s life while your child recovers, paying bills and keeping insurances active, and paying your now-adult child’s creditors, and you are finding that you are being treated as a stranger everywhere you turn, unable to “hold the fort down” until your child recovers.
If your child were ever so injured that he or she would need a guardian, it is not automatic that you would be that guardian, if the child is over the age of 18.
Educational and Medical Decisions
Are you paying for your child’s college or similar higher education? Your dollars don’t matter; you won’t have access to your child’s educational records, nor be able to handle school affairs (like putting off classes or re-enrolling in other schools).
While some medical professionals may speak to you as the parent of your child, some facilities may not, and some may speak to you, but not allow you to make vital medical decisions for an incapacitated adult child.
Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Directives
You can avoid all this by having a power of attorney and advanced healthcare directive. Many people see these documents as only necessary for old or sick people; the idea of going through the time and effort to create these documents for an otherwise healthy and vibrant 19 year old seems silly.
But it is hardly silly—it can be a necessity, and an important document. It can give you and your child peace of mind.
The documents can be easier, giving a parent the ability to make financial, medical, or both types of decisions, or it can be more limiting and specific. Divorced parents may need time to work out who will make what decisions and handle what parts of the child’s affairs. Either way, don’t ignore this vital piece of life and estate planning.
Let us help you plan for a minor child becoming an adult. Call the Torrance will and estate attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today for help with your estate or probate needs.