Health Care Proxy

Children eighteen years of age and older are legal adults under the laws of most states. As such, the child’s parents are no longer recognized as the child’s legal guardian and can no longer make medical and financial decisions for them. Therefore, children eighteen years of age and older should execute both a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney.

Your child should execute a legal document giving you, as parents, legal authority to make health care decisions if your child cannot (i.e. Health Care Proxy). Many children going away to college are now legally adults. If they become incapacitated (e.g. car accident, fever induced comma from swine flu) and cannot make emergency medical decisions for themselves, you may not be legally able to make a health care decision on their behalf unless they have a Health Care Proxy. It is common for hospitals not to release any information about your child because of privacy laws. Solving this problem is as easy as calling your estate attorney and asking them to draft a Health Care Proxy.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that enables the child to designate another person to act on the child’s behalf for financial and legal matters. If your child is unable to access a bank account or resolve a credit card problem for any reason (e.g. they are out of the country), you would not be able to help your child unless there is a Durable Power of Attorney in place naming you as the child’s agent.

Unfortunately, some parents do not realize this until it is too late. For example, if your child is traveling abroad and cannot access his or her bank account, a Durable Power of Attorney would allow you to speak with the U.S. financial institution to rectify the situation.

Please note that this information is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice.

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