McClellan Legal LLC Estate Planning & Tax Assessment Blog

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Planning for Your Young Adult Child’s Incapacity

Once your children turn 18, being a parent does not automatically grant you the right to access their health care and financial information.  In the eyes of the law, your 18+ year old child is an “adult” despite their actual maturity level.  With adulthood comes certain privacy rights and independence.  All adults, even young adults, have the power to appoint individuals to assist them with health care and financial decision making via properly executed power of attorney documents.  With a little planning, your children can name you as their health care and financial agent. 

Although it’s difficult to imagine, your adult child may become ill or injured.  As an adult, medical professionals may require a release signed by the child before sharing health care records with you as an abundance of caution to abide by HIPAA privacy laws.   When your child is incapacitated a release may not be possible and a court order may be required for parents to demand access to medical information.  If your child signs a Health Care Power of Attorney with HIPAA authorization that appoints you as the agent, then the problem is easily solved.   Additionally, if your adult child is at college, your child’s school may have a release form that should also be completed.

It may also be desirable for parents to have access to their children’s financial accounts when their children are young adults especially since many young adults are still receiving financial assistance from their parents.  Without a Financial Power of Attorney, this may be difficult.  However, if your child signs a Financial Power of Attorney that appoints you as their agent, then the problem is also easily solved. 

There is no need for your child to fear that they are giving up their privacy or independence by signing these documents.  In fact, having properly drafted power of attorney documents is a very “adult” thing to do.  Furthermore, the documents are theirs and your child may update the agents in their power of attorney documents in the future when they marry or have other changes in their life. 

We look forward to an opportunity to discuss a strategy for ensuring that parents of young adult children maintain access to their children’s health care and financial information.

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McClellan Legal LLC is located in Kennett Square and serves clients throughout the areas of Avondale, Chadds Ford, Coatesville, Downingtown, Landenberg, Oxford, Phoenixville, Pottstown, West Chester, & West Grove.

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