by Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho
When your child heads off to college, it’s a time of excitement and change. They’re embarking on a new journey towards independence, and this transition comes with significant legal implications that many parents may overlook. The key change to remember is that once your child turns eighteen, they are legally considered an adult. So, what does this mean for you as a parent?
Legal Status and Its Implications
At the age of eighteen, your child gains a range of legal rights and responsibilities. They can vote, get married, sign contracts, and, crucially, make their own health decisions. This last point is particularly important to understand because it has implications for your role as a parent in certain situations.
Decision-Making in Emergencies
If your child is unable to communicate due to an accident or injury, do you, as the parent, have a legal right to make health and financial decisions for them? NO, not without a court order.
The Power of Legal Documents
The law empowers your adult child to make their own decisions independently. To address potential situations where your child might need assistance with health or financial matters, it’s essential to have these documents in place.
- Financial Power of Attorney: This document allows your child to nominate someone, usually a parent, to manage their finances if they are unable to do so.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: This document designates an individual to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf in case they are unable to communicate their wishes.
To ensure that your child’s interests are protected, it’s advisable to consult an attorney who specializes in these matters. They can help draft and execute these documents in accordance with local laws and regulations, providing you and your child with peace of mind.
You can also find free, easy-to-fill-out forms for these legal documents on my website, SeniorEdgeLegal.com. Once the documents are prepared and signed, distribute copies to the appointed agents and share them with healthcare providers. This simple step can make a world of difference in times of need.
In the midst of all the excitement and change that comes with sending your child to college, it’s easy to overlook these crucial legal details. However, taking the time to address them ensures that everyone involved can face the future with confidence and “peace of mind.”
Do you have a written estate plan that protects your future and your loved ones? Call to schedule a meeting with Susan Graham to give you peace of mind that your affairs are in order (phone 208-344-0375 or Contact Us on our website).
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