Oftentimes when a child turns eighteen in Michigan and elsewhere it is not considered a major deal, except to the child maybe. But did you know that once your child turns 18 years of age you could be kept out of certain decisions regarding their healthcare, among others? Without a legal document stating otherwise, you as a parent of an adult child may not be the one to choose their medical care or treatment should they become seriously injured or otherwise incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own behalf.
State and federal privacy laws may prevent a parent from being informed of a young adult’s medical condition. Thus taking the necessary step of drawing up legal documents stating you have a durable powers of attorney for healthcare over your child could be one of the most important steps you take in protecting your young adult child’s life. It is also important, stated one estate planning attorney, to make sure your child has an ‘in case of emergency’ card with him or her at all times.
This card depicts all approved emergency contacts, as well as medical information, such as known allergies and other medical conditions and health insurance details. The majority of states consider a child 18-years or older a legal adult, which in essence emancipates parents from any legal authority over their child. Without a durable powers of attorney, your family could end up in a costly litigation in probate court attempting to gain guardianship over your child.
With a durable powers of attorney for both property and healthcare decisions you can act as your adult child’s agent and have access to his or her money, such as checking accounts to pay bills and manage other financial concerns. However, it is important to point out that you do not become liable for their debt, such as long-term hospital bills and specialized care expenses.
To take the time to have an experienced attorney in your state who understands the requirements needed to accomplish your estate planning goals for your entire family can be invaluable to your family’s future. Planning ahead now can save not only time and money later on, but the heartache involved in having to fight for your parental rights over your adult child, should he or she require your help at some point in his or her young life.
Source: Daily Herald, “Your teenager is now an adult, but what does that really mean?” Jean Murphy, July 15, 2012
We are an estate planning law firm in Huntington Woods, Michigan, and handle a wide variety of issues, including wills, trusts, probate litigation and durable powers of attorney, such as we discussed in this post.