As our children grow up, we happily mark their milestones. We celebrate as they transition to eating solid food, as they take their first steps and as they share their first words. I often find myself taking stock of how our lives will change every time my children reach a new state of development. When my babies transitioned to table food, we cleaned and donated the bottles. When they began walking, we secured the cabinet doors. When they learned to talk, we made sure to watch our own words to help them learn language.
It is that time of year when I see my friends’ children celebrating a major milestone: moving out to go to college, live alone, and becoming young adults.
As you help your children load the car for their new adventure, consider the implications of reaching that last childhood milestone, or conversely, the first milestone of adulthood– a milestone that the law gives the name “the age of majority.”
Your new adult is likely not the ruler of an estate, but he/she needs estate planning. While your child was still a child, you had the ability to open and access their bank accounts. You also had the ability to make health care decisions for them. Before your babies leave home, make sure that they engage in adequate legal “packing” to prepare them for their new lives.
Essential Estate Planning Documents
Your new adults should at least have a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Financial Power of Attorney, a HIPAA Authorization, and Advanced Directives.
Both a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Financial Power of Attorney will allow someone to stand in the shoes of the person who executed and make decisions for them.
A HIPAA Authorization allows a person to access medical records.
Advanced Directives allow your new adult to make decisions about their end-of-life care.
Making sure that your child has a clearly expressed plan will help mitigate any issues that will arise should your child not be able to make their own decisions or if they want help making decisions as they step out into adulthood.