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.
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.
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.
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.
Peter Klenk is the founding member of Klenk Law, a seven attorney boutique estate planning law firm. We serve clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and Florida. Peter Klenk received his Masters in Taxation LL.M. from NYU Law School and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. He served his country in the Navy JAGC during Desert Storm. Easy to talk to, feel free to call Peter for an appointment. We will make the process as easy as possible!
"I worked for Peter Klenk for 4 wonderful years. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone at the firm. Everyone truly cares about their clients and has a strong sense of responsibility to get things done right. I would highly recommend Klenk Law!"
I was referred to Peter after my divorce to put documents together to protect my assets. He suggested a number of documents that would help protect my children and their future. Also, he put together wills, power of attorney and living wills. I initially spoke with him on the phone, he took 30-40 minutes to understand my situation and explain the benefits of having such documents. After a week or two, I met with him in his office and signed the documents. Everything else was remote phone calls and emails. He re-explained these documents and what whom to share. I am in good hands.
Peter recently gave a presentation about Wills & Trusts at my employer, and it was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information to the group. People were very engaged and asked several questions, all of which Peter thoroughly answered. Personally, my husband and I have selected Peter to help us with our estate planning, and he has been very helpful in providing us with all of the information we need to provide a secure future for our family. Thank you, Peter!
Peter has done our family's trust and estate work since our children were born. He is not only extremely knowledgeable and honest but makes sure that our arrangements remain current with the changing legal landscape. I would give him my highest recommendation as a professional in his field.
AWESOME LAWYER! Peter Klenk is an exceptional attorney and a very nice person! Today I spoke with Peter about estate planning and was impressed with by his professionalism, cordiality, and attention to detail. I highly recommend Klenk Law for probates, wills, trusts, and other issues germane to estate planning!