Estate Planning for the 18 Year Old

In Estate Planning by Coolidge Wall

When my son, Sam, celebrated his 18th birthday, I gave him (surprise!) his very own set of estate planning documents. They were not as popular as, say, a Land Rover, but they were definitely at the top of “my” list. Why? Because he was now an adult and I was now persona non grata.

My son’s 18th birthday terminated many legal rights that I had previously taken for granted. He was now an adult. I could no longer consult with his doctor due to HIPAA regulations (although the billing office had no such qualms). I was unable to endorse Grandma’s Christmas check as “parent and natural guardian” or handle financial affairs for him when he was far from home.

Sam completed an Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney authorizing me to access his health care information. He also signed a Power of Attorney for Finances, a Living Will, and a Last Will and Testament. Because he attends an out-of-state college he executed that state’s version of a Health Care Power of Attorney.

Having a Health Care Power of Attorney allows me to speak to my son’s physician and other health care providers (important in the event of an emergency). The Financial Power of Attorney enables me to assist him with his finances when he studies abroad. His Last Will and Testament bequeaths his assets to family members and charities that he has chosen.

Sam went one step farther and established a Charitable Checking Account with The Dayton Foundation from which he makes his charitable contributions.

It is reassuring to know that my son has his legal affairs in order and that I can assist him in the event of an emergency or when he is far from home. A gift of estate planning documents may not be your child’s favorite gift but it will be one that you, as a parent, will treasure.

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