Once Your Kids Are 18, Make Sure They Sign These Legal Documents
While estate planning is probably the last thing your teenager is thinking about, given the dire threat coronavirus represents, when they turn 18, it should be their (and your) number-one priority. Here’s why: At 18, they become legal adults, so you no longer have the authority to make decisions about their healthcare, nor will you have access to their finances if something happens to them.
With you no longer in charge, your young adult would be extremely vulnerable in the event they become incapacitated by COVID-19 or another malady and lose their ability to make decisions about their own medical care. If your kids are already 18—or about to hit that milestone—it’s crucial that you discuss and have them sign the following documents.
Medical Power of Attorney
Medical power of attorney is an advance directive that allows your child to grant you (or someone else) the legal authority to make healthcare decisions on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for themselves. For example, the medical power of attorney would allow you to make decisions about your child’s medical treatment if he or she is in a car accident or is hospitalized with COVID-19.
Without medical power of attorney, if your child has a serious illness or injury that requires hospitalization and you need access to their medical records to make decisions about their treatment, you’d have to petition the court to become their legal guardian. While a parent is typically the court’s first choice for guardian, the guardianship process can be both slow and expensive.
While medical power of attorney allows you to make healthcare decisions on your child’s behalf during their incapacity, a living will is an advance directive that provides specific guidance about how your child’s medical decisions should be made, particularly at the end of life.
For example, a living will allows your child to let you know if and when they want life support removed should they ever require it. In addition to documenting how your child wants their medical care managed, a living will can also include instructions about who should be able to visit them in the hospital and even what kind of food they should be fed.
And remember to speak with your child about the unique medical scenarios related to COVID-19, particularly in regards to intubation, ventilators, and experimental medications. Contact us if you need clarification about how these new scenarios can be addressed in their plan.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Should your child become incapacitated, you may also need the ability to access and manage their finances, and this requires your child to grant you durable financial power of attorney.
Durable financial power of attorney gives you the authority to manage their financial and legal matters, such as paying their tuition, applying for student loans, managing their bank accounts, and collecting government benefits. Without this document, you’ll have to petition the court for such authority.
Peace of Mind
While you can’t totally prevent your child from an unforeseen illness or injury, with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®
advising you, you can at least rest assured that if your child ever does need your help, you’ll have the legal authority to provide it.
Q & A
What is a pet trust, and how does it work? – Doggy Daddy
While it’s possible to name a caregiver and leave them funding for your pet in a will, a will cannot guarantee the new caregiver will use the funds properly. In fact, a person who’s left a pet in a will can simply drop the animal off at a shelter and keep the money for themselves.
Given this, the best way to ensure your pet is properly cared for is to set up a pet trust, which is similar to a trust used for humans. A pet trust allows you to lay out legally binding rules for how the funds in the trust can be used. Additionally, pet trusts can cover multiple pets, work in cases of incapacity as well as death, and they remain in effect until the last animal dies.
To ensure your wishes are properly carried out, you should name someone other than the caregiver as a trustee. This way, the trustee can manage the funds and make sure they are used exactly as spelled out in your instructions.
As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you create a pet trust to ensure your beloved companion receives the love and care it deserves.
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 TBSP light brown sugar
¾ TSP kosher salt
¾ TSP ground cinnamon
4½ TBSP unsalted butter
4 ripe peaches
Extra-virgin olive oil
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Grilled Peach Crumble
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the butter and use your hands to work it into the dry ingredients until combined. Spread the crumble mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool.
Prepare a grill or grill pan for medium-high heat. Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Brush each half with olive oil. Transfer to the grill cut-side down. Grill until grill marks form, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly.
5. To serve, top with crumble and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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Procrastinating is the easiest course to take, particularly when you are trying to balance life, work and family responsibilities. However, the decision to procrastinate is also the most difficult to recover from, if you have improper or no planning in place when life’s twists and turns take control.