When your children turn 18, are there any steps that you should take or have them take? Yes! They are no longer minors and you do not legally have the authority or the ability to assist them at critical times.
Power of Attorney. Have them sign a Power of Attorney that gives you the right to do business and banking for them. They may think that this is an erosion of their power – since they are now adults. It is no more so than when you sign a Power of Attorney.
Why is this necessary? You, as the parent of an 18 year old, do not have the right to discuss their tuition (even though you write the checks) with the college they attend, their medical insurance coverage (even though you write the checks) or other insurances such as automobile insurance (even though you may write the checks).
They are accustomed to you assisting them with many of these issues but you may run into a roadblock with many companies unable or unwilling to discuss their issues with you. A Power of Attorney will give you the authority to handle these type of matters on their behalf.
Medical Power of Attorney. This is a necessity. When your child turns 18, you no longer have any access to his/her medical information and are not permitted, even in an emergency, to assist with direction of their medical care. It is prohibited by law.
Therefore, if your son or daughter were very ill, or in an accident, you would be notified by the first responders or the hospital. When you got there, however, you would only be able to look at them. The hospital and staff would not give you any medical information whatsoever.
Worse, there would be no one to direct their medical care and assist them by making critical medical decisions on their behalf.
If they sign a Medical Power of Attorney, also known as The Five Wishes, Patient Advocate Designation or Living Will, appointing you as their advocate if they were unable to make and communicate informed medical decisions, you would be able to act in times of emergency.
Again, this doesn’t take any power away from them. If they are able to speak and communicate, they will be in charge of their own medical decision making. If they need help, however, you will be armed with the paperwork that you need to step in and help – as you always have done.