I want to shed light on three myths about estate planning for young adults. Many of us may not be aware of how much changes legally once our child turns eighteen. It’s crucial to be informed and prepared for the legal realities our children face as they enter adulthood.
Myth #1: PARENTS RETAIN ACCESS TO THEIR CHILD’S HEALTHCARE INFORMATION
We all prioritize our child’s well-being, and losing access to their healthcare information is concerning. However, once a child turns eighteen, they become a legal adult. This means they must sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization if we want to continue accessing their health information. Even if our health insurance plan still covers them and we pay for their care, their consent is required. Let’s ensure our young adults sign a HIPAA authorization form to maintain that connection with their healthcare providers.
Myth #2: EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLDS DO NOT REQUIRE AN ESTATE PLAN BECAUSE THEY ARE YOUNG AND HEALTHY
Once our children turn eighteen, they assume responsibility for their financial, legal, and health-related decisions. Proper documentation is necessary if they want our assistance in managing their affairs. Every young adult can benefit from a basic estate plan that includes health-related documents, such as expressing their healthcare preferences and designating decision-makers in case of incapacity. Furthermore, certain actions, such as accessing their bank accounts or making financial decisions on their behalf, require explicit legal permission. They need a durable financial power of attorney in place for us to help them in these situations.
Myth #3: YOUNG ADULTS WITH LIMITED ASSETS AND LITTLE MONEY DO NOT REQUIRE A LAST WILL
It’s a common misconception that Wills are only for the wealthy. However, even if our young adults don’t have substantial wealth, having a basic Will can greatly benefit their loved ones. In the unfortunate event of their unexpected passing, a Will allows them to appoint a personal representative to handle their affairs. This includes settling debts, distributing their property and funds, and navigating the probate process more smoothly. Let’s encourage our young adults to have a last will in place to provide clarity and ease the burden on their grieving family.
During this emotional time of transition, we, as parents, may experience feelings of emptiness and concern for our child’s well-being. However, proactive planning can empower both us and our young adults. Reach out to an attorney who concentrates their practice in estate planning for young adults. They can provide a complimentary consultation to highlight the legal ramifications of adulthood that we may need to be aware of. After all, as parents, we want to ensure a smooth transition into adulthood for our children. Let’s navigate this phase together, armed with knowledge and preparedness.
From the desk of Terrie O’Donnell, Certified Paralegal