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Adult Children Need Estate Planning Too

This post was written by Parag Patel, Attorney on March 1, 2011
Posted Under: Estate Planning and Probate

The greatest fear for any parent is hearing that their child is having a medical emergency. Whether it be a car accident or a physical or mental catastrophe, the parents are immediately notified and rush into action.

Did you know that if your children are age 18 or older, that you are no longer able to make their medical decisions for them? In fact, you have no right to speak with their doctor or nurses or see their medical records.

How can this be? Once they reach the age of 18, they have reached the age of majority under the law. This means that in order to continue to have a say in their medical treatment, they need to name you as their health-care proxy.

Since a health-care proxy is a document that you can get for free from virtually any hospital or doctor’s office, is there any reason why you don’t have one for your children who are over the age of 18?

Here’s some information about the health-care proxy:

Health-care proxies are documents that allow you to name another person to make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so yourself. There is something else, called a living will. A living will is a statement of what your medical wishes are in the event you become ill.

Interesting and bizarre is the fact that you might be paying $45,000 a year to send your children to college, but you do not have the right to access their academic records. To correct this, and to be able to handle any other financial matter, I recommend that your child execute a durable power of attorney.

 To summarize, your adult children should have both a health-care proxy and a durable power of attorney. If you are on a budget, you can get a health-care proxy for free at any hospital and most doctor offices. They are simple to complete and require only two witnesses. Power-of- attorney forms are a little more complicated and I recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney for completion of this item.

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