Empowering Young Adults Begins at Home

A Guide to Essential Legal Plans for Medical and Financial Matters

Having my firstborn turn 18 while a senior in high school has stirred up a range of emotions and thoughts–excitement for her future, anticipation in seeing which career path she’ll pursue, joy that is bittersweet since she’ll be leaving the house soon–and a shocking realization that yes, she is legally an adult!

I encountered a “first” related to her newly minted adult status when I tried to make a doctor’s appointment on her behalf.  Because she recently turned 18, she now needs her own patient portal and to complete new paperwork before an appointment will be scheduled. The doctor’s office will no longer speak to me without her permission.  I guess it’s time to come to terms with Mom and Dad no longer having the authority, nor much say at all, in her personal business.

This experience prompted this month’s topic: the importance of setting up a plan for young adults so that parents or other loved ones can access their medical and financial information and have the authority to make important decisions if they’re unable to.  

A comprehensive young adult’s plan includes a HIPAA Release, Medical Power of Attorney, Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, and Declaration of Guardian.  The first document allows the young adult to name others that may have access to their medical information.  The Medical Power of Attorney grants others the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf, should the young adult become incapacitated.  A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney confers certain powers over the young adult’s finances to whomever is listed.  Finally, a young adult can use the Declaration of Guardian to name, and even exclude, who may serve as guardian of their person and their estate, should the need arise.  

Preparing for the unexpected is just one of the many responsibilities my daughter will get to enjoy as a young adult.  Having a plan in place gives both of us peace of mind, knowing that there will be no delay in helping her during an emergency.  Your estate planning attorney can draft a plan like this for the young adult in your family. 


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