In estate planning, we often think about measures to cover the disability or incapacitation of parents so that the family can handle financial and medical matters on their behalf. However, we commonly forget about adult children and their need for similar protections. For adult children who are unmarried, divorced, and/or have no children, you probably expect that you will have certain rights as parents. However, without safeguards in place, you may encounter some challenges given that your children are no longer minors. Below are 3 ways to safeguard adult children.
1 – HIPAA Authorization
HIPAA forms authorize you to access the healthcare information of your adult children. This includes speaking to medical professionals. This can be essential if your child experiences a serious accident or illness and is unable to provide authorization at the time. By having this form already in place, you preserve your rights as a parent.
2 – Health Care Proxy
In addition to having access to critical medical information, you may also want the right to make medical decisions on behalf of your adult children. Most adult children (who are not married and have no kids) would want their parents to have that right, and a health care proxy does just that. Without a health care proxy, you would need to file for a guardianship through the probate court. This is a time-consuming, costly and public process that a proper health care proxy will avoid.
3 – Durable Power of Attorney
Another one of the ways to safeguard adult children is with a general durable power of attorney. It grants you the right to manage their finances and to make other financial decisions on their behalf. Again, this could be critical in cases of incapacitation.
For instance, if your adult child is in a comma, a general durable power of attorney would allow you to access their accounts and pay their bills such as utilities and mortgages. It enables you to manage their affairs during a time where they may be unable to do so. Losing a home to foreclosure or experiencing legal issues while ill would only worsen an already difficult situation.
Other Ways to Safeguard Adult Children
Just as you should have an estate plan to protect your assets for the benefit of your heirs, your adult children should have one too! Their estate plan may not be as complex as yours, but they should include, at a minimum, the 3 ways to safeguard adult children noted above. Additionally, the information should be reviewed and updated yearly. If your adult children live out of state, you may need to execute documents in both states, as laws may vary. For additional information on this and other Massachusetts estate planning topics, contact us to schedule a consultation.