Hi, Lorie Burch here, your go to Wills & Trusts attorney. Picture if you will this scenario. You get a call in the middle of the night from your daughter’s college roommate that she’s been in an accident and being rushed to the hospital. You are hours away and try desperately to find out what is going on, you call the hospital, only to find out that they will give you VERY limited information. You have no idea of her condition or what is happening. You are powerless. Why? Because she is 18 years old and while she’s still your baby, in the eyes of the law, she is an adult and NO one has automatic rights to medical information or to make medical or financial decisions. So, pop quiz, what do you do, what DO YOU DO?
Here are a few simple legal planning steps to make sure you can take care of your kids once they turn 18.
First, there are a couple essential medical documents you should have your adult children put into place. The first one is the Medical Power of Attorney where they can designate you, their other parent, or any other adults who they would want to make medical decisions. They should also have a HIPPA Medical Record release, giving you and others the ability to get access to medical information or records. Like the example I gave, that could simply just being getting information on what is happening even before you can get to them.
Second, I also recommend 18 year olds getting a Financial Power of Attorney. Often also called a durable power of attorney, or statutory durable power of attorney. This would allow you or anyone else your child names to step in and handle any financial accounts, property, or credit cards. They may not have a lot yet, but this could really help if there is a car or bank accounts that may just be in their names.
Finally, speaking of bank accounts it’s a good idea to make sure that your child has named a “POD” pay on death on their bank accounts or ensure that if you are added as a joint owner, that you would have access to the account if, heaven forbid, they pass away.
I know this is difficult to think about, but I had a case where a young woman in her early twenties passed away suddenly and all she had was a bank account with a few thousand bucks. The bank wanted her parents, who were obviously grieving tremendously, to go through an extensive and expensive probate process just to get to the money. Luckily, I was able to work my charm and get the bank to work with them, but it would have been much easier if their daughter had set up the account in a way that would have ensured her parents would have access.
As a parent, I KNOW none of us wants to think of their children being hospitalized, disabled, or dying, but it is possible and it will only create additional heartache to be powerless to act for your child.
These do not have to be complicated or expensive matters to address. Contact us today to get started immediately or to set up a complementary consultation. And while we’re at it, we can even discuss if it’s time for you to get your Will in place or updated now that your kids are adults.
Because if you don’t have a Will, the state of Texas has one for you!