Planning for the Unexpected – Why you should have a “Power of Attorney” for your 18-year-old : Planning for the Future / Dealing with the Past
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Planning for the Unexpected – Why you should have a “Power of Attorney” for your 18-year-old

by Betty Burley on 01/30/19

As the parent of young adults, I’ve been fortunate that I have not encountered a situation in which I received an urgent phone call (or text message!)  advising me that my adult child needed medical treatment or urgent assistance with legal or financial documents.  Even as an attorney, I did not give thought about the necessity of power of attorney documents for a “child” until I was asked to assist in a situation where a parent was leaving the area and leaving an eighteen-year-old child behind with family to finish their last year of high school. 

When your child has that magical 18th birthday, he or she is an “adult” for many purposes in the State of Ohio.  Attaining the age of 18 transfers decision-making power for healthcare matters and financial matters from parent to child in most cases.  Many new adults still need a lot of assistance from their parents.  Privacy concerns may make it difficult for the parent to give help.  There is a pair of documents that I recommend parents obtain when their child reaches age 18.

HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY

If your son or daughter is injured or ill, physicians or hospital personnel may refuse to discuss their condition with parents, citing privacy concerns.  Ohio has a Health Care Power of Attorney document that allows your child to name one or both parents as an Agent who can make important health care decisions for your child if he in unable to do so for himself.  The document can also be completed to authorize medical personnel to release “protected health care information” to the people named in the document.  If your child is in an accident an unconscious, presentation of this document to the hospital personnel can open the door for open communication with you as a parent and can allow you to participate in medical decision-making.

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY

Equally useful is a Durable Power of Attorney form.  While the Health Care Power of Attorney form deals with medical issues, the Durable Power of Attorney allows you to assist your adult child in a variety of financial and legal matters.   If your child is travelling overseas, this document may come in handy if there is a need to contact the local embassy or to wire money from the child’s bank account. 

Your adult child may balk at the idea of signing a document that would potentially allow Mom and Dad to obtain his or her grades from college or see the debit card spending.  This is a good opportunity for the parents and new adult to have a conversation about appropriate boundaries in this new stage of the parent/child relationship.

Attorney Betty Burley is available to meet with you and your adult child to discuss why these documents are important and prepare them for you.  Evening and weekend appointments are available.  We can even “meet” by phone or Facetime.  Call us at 440-967-1529 or email burleylaw@gmail.com to make an appointment today.

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