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Can I Make Decisions for My 18-Year-Old ‘Kid’ If She Becomes Incapacitated?

Can I Make Decisions for My 18-Year-Old ‘Kid’ If She Becomes Incapacitated
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Incapacity can occur because of illness or an accident. It can be temporary or permanent. That’s why every adult needs a power of attorney in place, once they turn eighteen.

The Press-Enterprise’s recent article entitled “Legal documents for young adults” describes some of the critical legal and estate planning documents your “kid” (who’s now an adult) should have. In our minds, an 18-year-old is still our “kid”, but this is not true legally.

HIPAA Waiver. This form allows medical personnel to inform the parties you’ve named in the document. Without it, mom would be prohibited from accessing her 19-year-old’s health information—even in an emergency. However, know that this form doesn’t authorize anyone to make decisions. For that, see Health Care Directives below.

Health Care Directive. Also known as a health care power of attorney, this authorizes someone else to make health care decisions for you and details the decisions you’d like.

Durable Power of Attorney. Once your child turns 18, you can no longer act on their behalf, make decisions, or enter into any agreement binding them. This can be a big concern if your adult child becomes incapacitated. A durable springing power of attorney is a document that becomes effective only upon the incapacity of the principal (the person signing the document). It’s called a “springing” power because it springs into effect upon incapacity rather than being effective immediately.

A durable power of attorney, whether springing or immediate, states who can decide for you upon your incapacity and what powers the agent has. The designated agent will typically be able to access bank accounts, pay bills, file insurance claims, engage attorneys or other professionals, and act on behalf of the incapacitated person.

They’ll always be your babies, but once your child turns 18, they are legally an adult.

Be sure you’ve got the legal documents in place to be there for them in an emergency.

Remember, a spring break, when they’re home for summer after their 18th birthday, or a senior road trip are all opportunities when you may need these documents.

Reference: The Press-Enterprise (April 2, 2022) “Legal documents for young adults.”