It’s December 23rd; your 18-year-old daughter is a college freshman attending school out of state. You haven’t seen her since the semester started and are counting the minutes until she arrives home for the holidays. Then you receive the news from her carpooling companion that she has been in a serious auto accident. You race to the hospital, but when you arrive, the medical staff informs you that due to privacy laws, they are unable to share information with you regarding your daughter’s condition. This adds to your anger, frustration, and confusion to an already terrible situation.
Unfortunately, scenarios like this happen. In many states, when your child turns 18, she becomes an adult in the eyes of legal system – potentially limiting your ability as a parent to make medical or financial decisions on her behalf.
Basic Estate Planning Documents Every Family Should Have in Place
Most parents don’t think about estate planning when it comes to their children. The situation we’ve outlined above is just one example of why it’s vitally important to consider basic estate planning document preparation for your children once they reach the age of 18.
There are multiple estate planning documents that are essential in allowing you the ability to make decisions for your adult children and gain access to critical information:
- Medical Power of Attorney – specifies who can make medical decisions on behalf of your child
- Advanced Medical Directive/Living Will – instructions regarding end-of-life situations such as when to administer life support
- HIPAA Authorization form – allows doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to share medical information with you. Please note that when it comes to HIPAA, some states do allow medical professionals to use professional judgement and exercise limited exemptions without explicit documentation. However, due to the litigious nature of society and the ever-changing policies of individual healthcare systems, you need this form to be able to discuss your adult child’s situation with medical professionals
- Durable Power of Attorney – authorization to access financial information including bank accounts, utilities and other bills, and university information including grades, tuition, financial aid, etc.
Having these documents in place will deliver peace of mind, and help you feel ready for challenges you may face. If a worst-case situation ever arises, you will be able to direct your attention to your loved ones and not have to focus on administrative red tape.
And don’t forget yourself as you consider estate planning. Failing to make updates can often be one of the most overlooked and neglected parts of your estate plan. Performing a regular check-up on your plan and the accuracy of the documents we’ve listed above can help avoid stress and a potential financial burden should you become a victim of a car accident or other medical emergency.
Are your kids in town for the semester break? Talk to them about these risks and schedule a time to meet with your Krilogy Advisor and the Krilogy Law team to create the documents necessary to protect you and your family.
Deborah Smiley is an Attorney for KEP Law, LLC d/b/a Krilogy® Law. Krilogy Law was founded as a separate entity to Krilogy® Financial (“Krilogy®”). The law firm is operated as an independent law firm to provide legal services in estate and business planning to both Krilogy and non-Krilogy clients.
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