Having your kids leave home to attend college or start their career can be an emotional time for parents. On one hand, moving out on their own is a major accomplishment that should make you proud. On the other hand, having your kids leave the nest and face the world can also induce anxiety and fear.
Regardless of your feelings, once they reach age 18, your kids become legal adults, and many areas of their lives that were once under your control will be solely their responsibility. And one of the very first items on their to-do list as new adults should be estate planning.
At their age, their planning needs are likely minimal, but it’s crucial they have some basic documents in place. Before your kids head out on their own, you should discuss and have them sign the following three documents:
1. Medical Power of Attorney
Medical power of attorney is an advanced directive that allows your child to grant you (or someone else) the immediate legal authority to make healthcare decisions for them in the event they become incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for themselves.
For example, medical power of attorney would allow you to make decisions about your child’s medical treatment if he or she is knocked unconscious in a car accident or falls into a coma due to an illness.
Should they become incapacitated without this document, you’d have to petition the court to become their legal guardian. While a parent is typically the court’s first choice for guardian, the court process can be slow, and in medical emergencies, every second counts.
2. Living Will
While medical power of attorney allows you to make healthcare decisions on your child’s behalf during their incapacity, a living will provides specific guidance about how your child’s medical decisions should be made while they’re incapacitated, particularly at the end of life.
For example, a living will allows your child to decide when and if they want life support removed if they ever require it. In addition to documenting how your child wants their medical care handled, a living will can also include instructions about who should be able to visit them in the hospital and even what kind of food they should be fed.
If your child has certain wishes for their end-of-life care, it’s important you discuss these decisions with them and have those wishes documented in a living will to ensure they’re properly carried out.
3. Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Should your child become incapacitated, you’ll also need the ability to access and manage his or her finances, and this requires your child to grant you durable financial power of attorney.
Durable financial power of attorney gives you the immediate legal authority to manage their financial and legal matters, such as paying bills, applying for Social Security benefits, and/or managing banking and other financial accounts. Without this document, you’ll have to petition the court for such authority.
Start adulthood off right
As parents, it’s natural to experience anxiety when your kid leaves home. But with the support of your Personal Family Lawyer®, you’ll at least have peace of mind knowing that he or she will be well taken care of in the event of an unforeseen accident or illness. Contact us today to ensure that if your child ever does need your help, you’ll have the legal authority to provide it.