Two Important Legal Moves To Make When Your Child Turns Eighteen.
Disclaimer -- I am not an attorney. I do not practice law. This article is not to be considered legal advice. I am simply a parent sharing knowledge. It is for informational purposes. If you have specific questions, please seek legal advice.
Your kids think you are super hero. In their eyes, you are always there to save the day. You can do no wrong. Oh how the time flies!
Now picture this...
Your child turns eighteen years old, and goes off to college. Such a proud moment. A few months later, she gets into a car accident and is admitted to the hospital. It's pretty serious. Your child's friend calls, and gives you the news. She is there with her parents. You arrive as soon as you can. You go to the desk asking questions like "Where is she?" or "Is she okay?" But they won't answer your questions. They won't let you see her because, she is still in surgery. All you know is it's serious.
They have to perform a procedure and need consent. You reply "Okay I consent, just help her." The hospital staff tells you that since your child is eighteen, you cannot make the decision for her...unless you have Medical Power of Attorney.
At this point you probably are asking what that means, and arguing that you are her parents and that this is ridiculous.
That may be, but it doesn't change anything. Technically, she is an adult, and the medical staff does not have to give any information to anyone.
Here's what it means,
A medical power of attorney is one type of health care directive -- that is, a document that set out your wishes for health care if you are ever too ill or injured to speak for yourself. When you make a medical power of attorney -- more commonly called a "durable power of attorney for health care" -- you name a trusted person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
How do you prevent this scenario from happening? It's as simple as a single, signed document granting you Medical Power of Attorney. Each state has it's own requirements but, most just need your signature, your childs' signature, and either two witnesses, or a notary, or both.
For a downloadable form, and information about the requirements for each state, you can visit Power of Attorney (dot) com or search the internet, as there are many sites out there. Once you have the form completed, preferably after consulting legal advice, be sure to make copies and keep the original in a safe place. Keep a copy for yourself, and one for your spouse. Carry them, or have them handy, at all times to show proof in times of emergency. You never know when tragedy will strike, and you don't want strangers (or judges) making the decisions for your child's care.
Similar to the above mentioned document (and just as important), yet separate. It's called Financial Power of Attorney. As with the medical power, it is best to review your state requirements, and of course seek legal help if need be. Make copies, and keep them handy.
So, what is the difference? This form allows you to represent your child in financial and legal matters. Why does it matter? Well, if you still provide financial assistance, it would be nice to be able to monitor those finances with account access. Perhaps your child takes a trip overseas, and loses their bank card or passport. It would be nice if you could access their funds in an emergency to help them get what they need.
Bottom line >> These two documents are important. You may still see your child as your forever bundle of joy but, once they turn 18, these matters are largely out of your hands.
Note that while this article focuses on parent/child scenarios, these would also be important to have (for you) in case you are ever unable to represent yourself. Who would be your voice? Who would you want to represent you?