Back to school season is upon us and many Minnesotans are busy preparing their recent high school graduates to head off to college this fall. Getting your child ready for this new journey can be daunting. However, there is one vital task that often doesn’t make it onto a family’s college prep checklist: Having your child speak to an estate planning attorney.
Why Young Adults Need an Estate Plan
In the midst of preparing for this major life change in your child’s world, you may have forgotten one key thing: your child is now legally an adult. And while they may be ready to expand their horizons through higher education, there’s a good chance they will still want Mom or Dad’s help if they get sick or need assistance with a financial or legal matter.
At age 18, your child’s medical, financial, and legal decisions become fully their own. If they were to be in a serious accident and rendered unconscious or disabled, you would no longer be able to legally make decisions on their behalf without first going to court. Estate planning for young adults seeks to address these issues with a few basic documents.
Estate Planning Documents for Young Adults
While we hope that this is a situation that you and your loved ones never face, the reality is that each year about a quarter of a million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are hospitalized. Without the right legal documents in place, these young adults’ families risk being excluded from making critical medical decisions on behalf of their loved ones.
To make sure you have the right tools to address this possibility, the attorneys at Guttman Law recommend that anyone over the age of 18 establish a few, basic estate planning documents:
1. Advance Healthcare Directive:
A Health Care Directive informs others of your preferred medical treatment should you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to make or communicate decisions regarding treatment. This document will allow your child to name an agent to help make medical decisions on their behalf in the event they’re unable to do so themselves.
2. Durable Power of Attorney:
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that empowers another individual to carry on your financial and legal affairs in the event you become disabled or incapacitated. This document will allow your child to name a trusted loved one to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf in the event of an emergency. This tool will allow you to take care of their bank accounts and pay bills if they’re unable to.
Depending on how this document is designed, this privilege can be granted upon incapacity or immediately (which may be helpful in the event your child wants you to help with financial concerns while they’re away at school across the country.)
3. HIPAA Authorization:
Some medical providers have refused to release information, on the grounds that the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, prohibits such releases. Some providers may even refuse to release this information to family members authorized by the Healthcare Power of Attorney.
To ensure doctors can openly communicate with you about your child or grandchild’s condition and care in the event of an emergency, they should sign a HIPAA authorization form that allows the release of medical information to parents or other trusted family members.
Guttman Law Can Help
Talking through these scenarios can be worrying. But having difficult conversations and setting up estate planning documents for your young adult will both encourage responsibility as they enter adulthood and give both of you peace of mind for the future.
Attorneys Matt Guttman and Jamie Reff-Wagner are happy to help you through the process of estate planning for young adults and ensure your loved ones have the proper legal tools in place. Schedule a complimentary consultation today.