By Boyce F. Lowery, CLU®, ChFC®
An adolescent eagerly looks forward to the day they turn eighteen. Each year in America, more than four million children turn that milestone age and are considered adults legally. Now over 18, your child is eligible to vote. But there’s a lot more to consider here than the fact he or she is able to cast a ballot in an election.
Turning eighteen is a big milestone to be sure. Your child is now in charge of his or her future. However, few parents realize that it is also an age where they are losing parental rights. This is of particular concern as it relates to financial decisions and health care issues.
What can you do to protect your children and their finances now that they’re adults? Get started with these steps.
Execute a Durable Power of Attorney Document
As your child reaches the age of 18, you should execute a financial Durable Power of Attorney document. This means that you would be able to legally represent your child and their financial concerns.
By having a Durable Power of Attorney document in place, you can be sure that you would be in charge of their health and finances, instead of a court-appointed representative, if they were to become incapacitated.
This can be helpful in a variety of circumstances. First of all, if you receive important financial documents while they are away at college or studying abroad, you can sign on their behalf. Important deadlines like federal and state tax deadlines are easier to meet during the busy school year if you’re able to sign documents on behalf of your child.
Get a Health Care Proxy with HIPPA Release
You may or may not be aware of a health care privacy act called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The HIPAA laws prevent you from even getting medical updates in the event your child is 18 years old or older. This is true even if he or she is unable to communicate his or her wishes to have you involved.
Should your child suffer a medical emergency resulting in their inability to communicate for him or herself, doctors and other medical professionals may refuse to speak with you and allow you to make medical decisions for your child. Without a HIPPA release, you may face many obstacles before receiving critically needed information.
The solution to this issue is to execute a relatively simple legal document referred to as a Health Care Proxy with HIPPA release. This allows you to act as your child’s health care agent and to get information about their medical conditions and care. If they are incapacitated, it allows you to make medical decisions on their behalf.
Taking the Next Steps
When your child reaches eighteen, take a moment to take stock of some of the implications surrounding this milestone age. First and foremost, discuss with your child the importance of executing a Health Care Proxy with HIPPA release and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. Together with your child, meet with an estate planning attorney to execute these documents.
Giving up financial and medical control of your child may be tough, but the best thing a parent can do is teach your children to have the necessary protocols in place to protect them no matter their age.
Call us at 888-827-0146 to arrange a consultation. For more information, visit: www.suncrestadvisors.com.
Boyce Lowery is a 40-year veteran and established expert in the insurance industry. As the managing partner of Suncrest Advisors, he, his partner, and their associates all aim to provide financial security and peace of mind to business owners, executives and professionals, and high net worth individuals across the United States. Along with more than four decades of experience, Boyce is a Chartered Life Underwriter® (the premier designation for insurance professionals signifying specialized knowledge in life insurance and estate planning) and a Chartered Financial Consultant® (known as the advanced financial planning designation). To learn more, visit https://suncrestadvisors.com/ or connect with Boyce on LinkedIn.