You can execute an estate plan at any time in life provided you are of sound mind when you do so. Most people who are well-versed in such issues would agree that devising a solid plan sooner in life is better than later or never at all. If your son or daughter has turned 18, there are several important estate planning issues to consider.
Build a Strong Support Network From the Start
A New Jersey estate planning lawyer is updated on all laws and regulations regarding the estate planning process. There’s no one way to construct a plan. In fact, one of the benefits of planning an estate is that you can customize it to meet your specific needs and ultimate goals. For instance, another person’s focus may be on naming legal guardians for younger children while you wish to address trust or inheritance issues for your children who are adults.
When your child turns 18, he or she is legally considered an adult. As such, you are no longer privy to certain information about his or her health or finances, which you may need to be if a problem arises in his or her life. Learning more about the estate planning process can provide you with information and resources to help your adult child if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own behalf.
Estate Planning Documents for Kids Aged 18 and Beyond
When your child was younger, his or her medical records and financial information were typically made available to you as a parent. However, when your child becomes a legal adult, you no longer have access to such information unless he or she has signed certain documents permitting you to view medical, financial or education records. If your son or daughter was in an accident that resulted in life-threatening injuries and is unable to act on his or her own behalf, without a living will granting you authorization, you won’t be able to make medical or financial decisions for your child.
More About a Living Will and Other Documents
In a medical emergency, a living will signed by your adult son or daughter could authorize you to make decisions regarding life-extending treatments, organ donation or other matters. Two specific documents would also be useful in such circumstances. A medical Power of Attorney (POA) enables you to make decisions relating to health while a durable POA would also grant you authority to make business decisions for your child.
A durable POA would enable you to access your child’s tax information, vehicle registration, bank information or other important accounts. It’s a good idea to discuss these issues with a child who has reached his or her 18th birthday so that he or she gains an understanding of the legal implications that accompany adulthood and how estate planning documents can help ensure that his or her wishes will be implemented if a health condition arises or accident occurs that causes incapacitation.
It’s crucial that your child clearly understands the content of each document before determining whether it’s something that he or she wants to sign. It’s also important for your child to know that once a document has been signed, it can be changed or updated as needed as long as he or she is of sound mind at the time.
Issues That Are More Minor But Equally Relevant
Estate planning documents can provide a safety net for your adult-aged child if something happens that results in an injury that leaves him or her unable to speak or act independently. You may also find such documents useful in a more benign set of circumstances.
For instance, perhaps your child has asked you to call his or her doctor to request information regarding a recent COVID-19 test, or you wish to discuss an issue regarding his or her college enrollment with administrators at the school. If your child has signed certain release forms ahead of time, it will be much easier for you to navigate the system to complete such tasks. An estate planning lawyer can help explore all available options and recommend which documents best fit a particular financial-, medical- or business-related need.
Reach Out for Additional Support As Needed
Since some estate planning issues are more complex than others, you may encounter challenges you do not feel equipped to handle on your own. The Knee Law Firm in Hackensack, New Jersey, provides support in all aspects of estate planning and litigation. To discuss a particular issue, you can call us at (201) 996-1200 to request a consultation.