Once a child reaches legal adulthood at the age of 18, a parent loses the majority of his or her authority over the child’s legal affairs. This can cause serious trouble in the even of an emergency, so it is important to consult with an estate planning professional when your child approaches adulthood. Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling with the law simply to provide proper medical and financial assistance to the child you love.
You must consider two primary issues when it comes to estate planning for an adult child. First, you want to make sure that you retain access to his or her medical information and authority to make medical decisions on the child’s behalf in the event that the child suffers some tragic event and is incapacitated. When your child’s life and comfort depend on your ability to make quick decisions, you don’t want to waste time fighting the legal system for the right to help the child you love.
Secondly, you want to establish the legal right to direct the child’s financial affairs if he or she cannot do so. Many parents think that simply forming joint accounts with a child is enough to skirt this issue, but that often raises complicated tax issues that may affect your overall estate plan negatively. A more specific solution is a more effective choice in these matters.
If you have a child approaching adulthood, or who recently turned 18, an experienced estate planning attorney who understands the importance of resolving these issues before they arise can help. Professional guidance can help you prepare all the legal documents you need to protect your privileges as a parent and your child’s rights as a new adult.
Source: The Huntsville Item, “Legal steps to take when your child turns 18,” Nov. 13, 2017