Is your baby going to college? August is almost here and if your child has graduated high school, they may soon be off to college. But while you are busy buying extra-long twin bed sheets and fans for those hot dorm rooms, don’t forget the most important items, which you can’t buy in a store. Once your child turns 18, there are legal documents that he or she must have to make sure they are protected in case of emergency. Because while your 18 year old may still be your baby, in the eyes of the law your baby is now an ADULT!
That means you can no longer make important medical or financial decisions for your child without his or her permission. So if your teen has an accident while at college, it’s highly likely that you will be unable to get any information or make decisions about their care. You can’t even call the financial aid office at your child’s school or talk to a credit card company or insurance agency without your teen’s permission.
But let’s face it….your job of being a PARENT doesn’t stop just because your child turns 18. If there’s a medical emergency or your child asks for financial help, you NEED the ability to cut through the legal red tape and get involved. Doctors, hospitals and financial institutions may NOT bend the rules on this.
Fortunately, there’s a solution and it’s something that EVERY parent of a child 18 years or older should make sure to have!
You must have 3 KEY DOCUMENTS in place to make important medical or financial decisions on your child’s behalf (just imagine the nightmare of your child getting hurt hundreds of miles away at school and the hospital refuses to give you so much as a status update!).
These key documents give you the legal permission you need to HELP your child now and stay involved in an emergency. The documents include:
1. A Health Care Proxy (with HIPAA language);
2. A Living Will; and
3. A financial Power of Attorney.
Hopefully you never need to use these legal documents. Think of having these documents in place for your child as a safety net - if you need them, they will be there to protect you and your teen. All you have to do is present them if needed (to a hospital, bank, etc.) and you’ll be able to immediately speak on your child’s behalf. There’s no greater peace of mind than knowing you can stay in control and make critical decisions if necessary!
And don’t forget that having an “adult” child is a huge life-change for mom and dad too, and your estate planning documents may need to be updated accordingly. Your wishes for how your now-adult children will inherit your money if something happens to you may be different than what you set up when they were babies. You may want to amend or set up trusts, and you may also consider placing your adult child in a position of authority in your plans so they have the legal power to help YOU if you experience a problem or medical crisis in the future.
So take a deep breath, and call us at the Law Offices of Lisa S. Katz, PLLC (914-244-0908) to discuss how we can help you keep your sanity and protect your “babies” as they take their next exciting steps away from home!