By Lorie Burch, Owner & Founding Attorney of Burch Law
Did you know that once your children turn 18, you will not have automatic rights to make legal and medical decisions for them? You won’t even have access to medical information in case of an emergency! That’s right, once someone is of legal age, no one, not a parent, not a spouse, has automatic legal rights. Once many parents realize this, they have their kids rush in to sign legal documents, especially before they go off to college.
Here are some of the most important documents to consider:
- Medical Power of Attorney – A Medical Power of Attorney (or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) designates an agent to make medical decisions if you are unable to make them.
- Medical Record Release (HIPAA) – A HIPAA Release Authority is a document that specifies who may have access to your medical records. For example, most clients will name the same individuals as in their Medical Power of Attorney so that they may have access to your medical records if they have to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Financial Power of Attorney – A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney (or financial Power of Attorney) designates an agent to make financial decisions and control property on your behalf. A Power of Attorney gives great financial responsibilities. For example, if you are in an accident and are in the hospital, your agent could help pay your bills and manage your financial affairs in your absence.
There may be other planning that is necessary for your children, which is why it’s vital to consult a qualified attorney to guide you through your specific circumstances. There are other considerations as well in the event your child has a bank account or a vehicle. You may want to ensure that financial accounts are set up with pay on death clauses (POD) or with rights of survivorship to allow a parent to have access in the event of death.
These do not have to be complicated or expensive matters to address. While no parent wants to think of their children being hospitalized, disabled, or dying, it is possible and creates additional heartache to be powerless to act for your child.
For more information, watch our informational video: https://youtu.be/psa3_2TpSTw