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Estate Planning When Your Child Turns 18

Your child has grown up, finally reaching age 18. For your child’s entire life you were the one making doctors appointments and paying the bills. But, upon reaching age 18, this all changes. Well, at least, legally. Legally, you now have no authority. Certainly, you still might be the one reminding them to save money or to get a check up, but legally force them to.

Though it might be the last thing on their mind, doing some basic Estate Planning when your child reaches age 18 is important. Although its painful to think about, accidents can happen. If your child is injured, someone needs the authority to make medical decisions and to work with insurance companies. Though their language may vary from person-to-person and your child’s circumstances, the documents described below are the most common and address the majority of cases.

What Happens If Your 18 Year Old Child Does Not Have an Estate Plan?

Guardianship: If your child falls ill and becomes incapacitated someone must step in to make financial and medical decisions. Petitioning the court for a Guardian becomes necessary if your child has not executed a Power of Attorney giving an Agent authority to act financially, or a Health Care Power of Attorney giving an Agent authority to make medical decisions.

Intestacy, Having No will at Death: If your child has no Will, then assets pass under the State’s plan. The Intestacy Rules do not take your child’s wishes into consideration. A Will allows your child to craft a plan that reflects his or her real desires and pick an executor.

Why It’s Important Your 18 Year Old Has a Will

No matter how much or little your children own, a Will allows them to voice their wishes. Who gets their assets? Who serves as Executor? And, who makes burial and funeral decisions? Documenting these decisions becomes especially important if the child’s parents are no longer married. Without a Will, each parent has an equal right to control the estate, which can lead to avoidable conflict. Further, the Will can address the child’s wishes when there is a significant other who the family might otherwise exclude.

If your child becomes incapacitated, a Durable General Power of Attorney appoints the person or persons that manages their assets. Without this document, the family is forced to file for Guardianship. The court is free to select the Guardian, who might not be a family member.

In a Medical Proxy (also know as a Medical Power of Attorney) and a Living Will your child chooses the person who will make medical decisions. If your child is ever unable to make decisions, the surrogate steps in. This person selects doctors and authorizes or refuses treatment. Your child should pick someone who will carry out the child’s wishes, not impose the surrogates own beliefs.

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If you have any questions about estate planning for your recently legal adult child or any other estate planning topics, feel free to contact us to schedule a free consultation. For more than two decades Klenk Law has focused only on Estate Law. We’ve seen it all, and this experience allows us to explain complex estate planning techniques clearly and concisely. We make it easy for you to understand estate planning so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

What Our clients are saying

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Klenk Law is an exceptional practice. Their fine lawyers and staff team up to produce excellent results for their clients. They excel at explaining the often cryptic laws and policies that govern estate planning right down to the complexities of the various "trust" frameworks. Peter himself manages each client together with his great team, and he has a rare quality to be both a walking encyclopedia of planning minutia and also one of the most likable lawyers I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. He is truly generous in intellect and in his personal approach to getting the "big picture" for complex family structures. I trust him implicitly to help me make the right choices for the future. In short, Klenk Law is a gem of a firm.

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Michael Wolfgang

Peter and the whole team at Klenk Law are top notch. They are thorough, efficient and understanding of client needs. He was able to tailor our estate planning needs just how we envisioned.

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Like another reviewer, I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link, for a question regarding PA inheritance taxes. The question was quite technical and difficult to explain, and the answer was nowhere to be found on the web. Peter grasped precisely what I was asking, and provided a clear, helpful response (with a touch of humor) the very next day.

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I met Peter soon after he started his practice in Philadelphia, PA. He and his team have always been there for me and my various inquiries throughout my life-changing events, corporate relocations. I have lived in various cities throughout the nation, I have never had a problem in contacting Peter or a member of his team. He and his office responds quickly and returns calls to me to fulfill my requests for information or to revise my estate needs while posing relevant thought-provoking questions that I need to consider to secure my future. One of Peter's best qualities is his ability to answer clients complicated questions in a simple way to ensure comprehension.

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Anne W.

I saw four lawyers and was told by all of them; I should just forget contesting my mother's will. I knew what happened, but it is very hard to prove undue influence. I contacted the Law Offices of Peter L. Klenk & Associates. Attorney Amanda DiChello took my case. They were very honest and upfront about what would be involved trying to prove what I knew was true. Attorney DiChello may be young but she is extremely knowledgeable and skilled. She listened and understood what I conveyed to her. She knew exactly what information to use and crafted an outstanding interrogatory and many powerful depositions. Attorney DiChello understood the various emotional feelings this case created for my family and me; she was always there for us with a kind and encouraging word. We went to trial. The amount of work which she and her Paralegal did for the trial was incredible. They both knew my case inside and out! Attorney DiChello's powerful interrogative and thinking skills produced a positive outcome. Attorney DiChello did what other seasoned lawyers said was impossible!

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