The December 11 Wall Street Journal had an article discussing documents you need when your child turns 18. These “rules” may have been in place when my kids were younger, but I was not aware of them, and, fortunately, did not have to utilize any of these services. A lot of things change when your son or daughter turns 18—some good, some bad—but often overlooked is the fact that a parent cannot make legal decisions for them or receive private information without the child’s permission. To recap the article, the following are some of the primary documents that should be in place at age 18.
First, your 18-year-old should have a health care power of attorney. This document will give parents the ability to make decisions about their child’s health care, if the child is physically or mentally incapable of making medical decisions. Associated with the power of attorney should be a living will specifying what medical decisions are desired at the end of life. Parents can also encourage their child to provide them with a HIPAA authorization which gives parents full access to health information in any circumstances. This paperwork should be kept in an accessible and handy place because it will be needed to prove to doctors, hospitals, etc. that you have the right to privileged information.
A financial power of attorney can also be useful by allowing parents to manage a child’s finances if they are injured, incapacitated or just acting irresponsibly. For example, if a child was in an automobile accident and could not pay his bills, the parent could step in with a financial power of attorney and pay any debts incurred by the child. Depending on how it is worded, the power of attorney can become effective immediately, or at a future point in time. It can be all inclusive or set limits. Finally, if you have a college student, they must provide written consent before education records, such as grades, transcripts or disciplinary records can be shared with you. In this case, you may be in a position of power, especially if you help pay the tuition, car note or bar tabs. No consent, no check. Whether all this makes for a better world or not, I am unsure. I am confident that failure to have these documents in place could create massive stress if they are needed and not available. I suggest you do your homework and start your document file.
So we start another year with this issue. Why not get off on the right foot with a song of joy? Share it with a friend and make a joyful noise together: “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of loves, hearts unfolded like flowers before thee, praising thee, their sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away; giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day. All thy works with joy surround thee, earth and heaven reflect thy rays; stars and angels sing around thee, center of unbroken praise. Field and forest, vale and mountain, blooming meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird and flowing mountain, call us to rejoice in thee. Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest, wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest. Thou our Father, Christ our brother, all who live in love are thine; teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.” Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Although this information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it cannot be guaranteed. This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized tax, legal or investment advice. FSC Securities Corporation does not offer tax or legal advice. The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of FSC Securities Corporation. Financial Solutions Group is a marketing name. Financial Solutions Group is located at 128 Versailles Blvd, Alexandria, LA 71301. We can be reached at (318) 448-3201. Securities, insurance and advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.