Estate Planning for Children Turning 18
Young people rarely think about estate and personal disaster planning. However, those turning 18 years of age are adults. The parents no longer have inherent legal authority over the child. These youngest of adults are responsible for all of their own affairs. Therefore, even 18-year-olds should have a plan in case of serious medical emergency or untimely death.
All adults should consider executing a HIPAA authorization, a medical power of attorney and a will. These legal instruments can be of great benefit to the signer and his or her family in the short or long term. People should seek the counsel of a knowledgeable and skilled estate planning attorney to appropriately craft each of these documents:
- HIPAA authorization — The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires medical providers to keep patient information confidential. In general, providers can release patient information and medical records only to the patient. However, an individual may execute a HIPAA authorization that designates another person or institution to request and receive information. A young adult may benefit from making a parent their designee, especially if they stay on their parents’ health insurance plan after turning 18 years of age. Having an insured parent as the designee can simplify processing of insurance claims. The designee can collect all of the records and information directly. This can be of particular value when a patient is physically incapacitated or recuperating from an injury.
- Medical power of attorney — A person can sign a medical power of attorney (MPA) to designate a person known as the “agent” to make medical decisions when the signer is unable to do so because of mental or physical incapacity. The signer’s incapacity must be verified in writing by a physician. An MPA may be tailored to the individual’s needs, limiting the agent’s authority in any way the signer deems appropriate. The signer may also designate alternate agents in case the first choice of agent is unable or unwilling to serve. The signer may revoke the MPA at any time for any reason.
- Last will and testament — It is also prudent for young adults to execute a will, which is a legal instrument that directs the distribution of a person’s assets upon death. Most 18-year-olds do not have significant money or other property. However, over time they will take on more activities and opportunities that increase their income and wealth. Having an estate plan in place can be highly beneficial as personal circumstances change, such as marrying and starting a family. The individual can periodically revise their will as they wish.
Based in Plano, Texas, the Law Offices of Kevan I. Benkowitz has a full-service estate planning practice. We will thoroughly assess your needs and ensure that the appropriate legal documents are prepared. If you would like to discuss estate and emergency planning, feel free to contact us online or call 972-464-2645 for an initial consultation.