Taking Care (Legally) of Your 18 Year-Old Baby

Taking Care (Legally) of Your 18 Year-Old Baby

Even if your nest is recently empty or down one bird – a mother’s job is never done. Your 18 year-old is now classified as a legal adult. But, we all know, even if your child doesn’t, that your guidance is still key to their success.

Be the one to give your child a push toward some legal guidance. Not the kind that is necessary when a little too much fun is had at college. The kind that will allow you to do what you have always done throughout your child’s life. Specifically, making medical decisions and assisting with their affairs.

The documents I am referring to are more commonly associated with older persons but everyone, including your 18 year-old child, should have them. I am referring to a durable power of attorney for financial and health care decisions.

With the strict health care laws, it is imperative that your child designate in writing who would have authority to make medical decisions for him/her if he/she was unable to. This document would also allow health status information to be shared without privacy laws prohibiting a doctor from speaking about your child’s medical situation.

Although the ability to make medical decisions is the most serious, your guidance would not be complete without focusing on another need. A general durable power of attorney would allow you to handle everything else on your child’s behalf besides medical care. This document gives a person broad authority to handle a person’s affairs. This could include accessing financial accounts, filing tax forms, entering into contracts, and speaking with professionals such as bankers, financial advisors, tax preparers, college administration, etc. This can be useful if you are still helping out with your child’s affairs or if there is a drastic medical emergency where someone has to make sure certain things are handled when your child can’t handle them on his own.

These documents are necessary for the young, old, and everyone in between. In absence of these documents, a person would have to get a court order to handle another person’s affairs or make medical decisions on their behalf. Having these documents allows you to step in for your 18 year-old baby – because they may still need you.


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