Do you have a teenager in your life ready become a legal adult? For parents, having a child turn 18 is a huge deal, as change is on the horizon—high school graduation, college, work, and the transition into adulthood. If you are planning to give your soon-to-be-adult a gift, one of the most important and meaningful things you can offer, besides a car, a trip, or money, is to set up your child for the future with a trio of life-planning documents. A simple trust or will, a durable power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney may not have been a gift you original thought to give, however, those documents will legally protect your child and family in the case of an emergency.
Preparing the proper documents once your child reaches the legal age will end up being a gift for both of you, because once a child reaches that point, a parent can no longer automatically make medical and legal decisions without the appropriate documentation authorizing them to do so.
So Why Do My Children Need Proper Estate Planning?
If your son becomes ill or injured and cannot handle his own financial affairs, you will not be able to step in for him and conduct business (sign checks, sell assets, etc.) unless he has named you as the successor or agent in a trust or a durable power of attorney. If those documents have not been drafted, a parent must go through the court system, which will take time, cost money, and add in unneeded stress into an already-stressful situation. (Some financial institutions also require their own forms; make sure you and your child check with each bank, etc.)
If your daughter becomes incapacitated and cannot make her own medical decisions, being named her agent on a medical power of attorney document will make the process of decision making much easier. If for some reason your child is placed on life support before any family members arrived at hospital, you may be unable to have the equipment removed without court approval. Unless there was a legal medical power of attorney document in place that made that person’s medical wishes known.
Finally, if your adult child should die without a will, the court will distribute those assets according to the laws of the state in which he lived, regardless of any wish you (or he) may have had. Make sure your new adult understands that all of these documents will need to be updated as his (and your) life changes over the years and as more assets are accumulated, or as loved ones move, a spouse is added, children are born, and so on.
Call Elder Law Services for a FREE Consultation Today!
Helping a child gets started on the path toward adulthood and responsibility when they are of legal age is one of the most important things a parent can do for a budding adult. Setting up a will, trust and powers of attorney document is never too early and that process goes hand-in-hand with teaching a teenager how to balance a checkbook, handle a credit card, and how to buy insurance. The chances are, your family will not need those documents for many years. But why not send your child out into the world with a full layer of protection...just in case.
When you are ready to start planning for the future, give our team of expert estate planning attorney’s at Elder Law Service of California a call at (855) ELDER LAW for a FREE consultation and to get the process started today. We look forward to serving you.