Two Important Steps to Take When Your Child Turns 18
03.12.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.
It is the eve of your child’s 18th birthday, and you are thinking about all the exciting things that lie ahead—high school graduation, going off to college, that first job, or perhaps even planning a wedding. At Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. we recommend you take a few minutes to think about what happens, legally, to your relationship with your child the minute your child turns 18.
When your child turns 18, they are no longer a child – they are legal adults. And as such, they are no longer subject to decisions made for them by a parent or guardian. This means that a parent has no legal authority to help their 18-year-old “child” unless the child grants authority to the parent in two crucial legal documents – 1) A Health Care Directive and 2) A Power of Attorney.
Step 1: Healthcare Directive
A Health Care Directive (HCD) is an incapacity planning document that names Health Care Agents to make health care decisions on their behalf IF they lack capacity to make their own health decisions. If a person needs help making health care decisions but does not have a Health Care Directive in place, a guardian can be appointed by a court to have legal authority to make the medical decisions for the person subject to guardianship. A Health Care Directive is a short, inexpensive, easy-to-prepare solution to guardianship.
Step 2: Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is an incapacity planning document that names agents to make financial decisions for the principal. Unlike the Health Care Directive, which “springs” to life when and if the principal lacks capacity, a Power of Attorney is a valid authorization of power once it is signed—whether the principal has capacity or not. If a person needs help with financial decisions but does not have a Power of Attorney (or other arrangement) in place, a conservator can be appointed by a court to have legal authority to make financial decisions for the person subject to conservatorship. A Power of Attorney is a short, inexpensive, easy-to-prepare solution to conservatorship.
Most 18-year-olds want their parents’ help, and most parents want to be able to help readily and easily and outside of court procedures. Estate Planning is for everyone. Help your young adult child put a Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney in place through Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.