Imagine that your 18-year-old who just left for college is involved in a serious car accident. He or she is injured so badly that making health care decisions is impossible. After rushing to the hospital to help, however, you are told that you cannot see your child. In fact, the hospital won't even give you updates on your child's condition.
This scenario may sound unlikely to some parents in Minnesota, but it has happened to many parents across the country. Why? Because their children, who were 18 or older at the time of an accident, never appointed a health care proxy.
When a child turns 18, he or she is legally considered an adult. What this means in a situation like a serious car accident is that hospitals cannot release any information about the child unless he or she has given them permission to do so. And this is not the only situation in which some estate planning upon turning 18 would come in handy.
Many college-age kids rely on their parents for some financial assistance. For those people, designating a parent as a financial power of attorney may be wise. Doing this can allow parents to access their child's accounts, pay his or her bills, and even work with a bank to get a child a new debit card.
Although an 18-year-old won't have the same estate planning needs as their parents, it is important for a young adult to fill out certain documents. Encouraging your child to appoint a health care proxy and a financial power of attorney will ensure that you are able to help make decisions on behalf of your child should he or she be unable to.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Why Your College-Age Children Need an Estate Plan," Anne Tergesen, Sept. 21, 2013