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Health Care Power of Attorney for Young Adults

There’s a lot to consider when your child turns 18, isn’t there? You’ve contributed to their 529 plan for years, the car is packed, and your child is ready to head off to college. On top of that, they can vote and enlist in the military - it’s quite a list. Perhaps the most mind-boggling thing as a parent is to realize your child is an adult – maybe not in your eyes, but they definitely are in the eyes of the law.

It’s important to take your child’s legal adult status into account, because as an adult, their information is considered private, even from their parents. This can include medical information, as well as the ability to make decisions in case of emergency. Consequently, having a durable power of attorney for health care (“DPOAHC”) is key. Oftentimes young adults don’t have one.  If you don’t either, I recommend you work with an attorney to draft one as soon as possible.

In the event an individual is unable to communicate during a medical event, a DPOAHC becomes critical during delivery of medical care. A power of attorney is a legal document which one person uses to empower another trusted person to act on their behalf. A “durable” power of attorney contains the feature of continuing when a person is no longer able to make decisions on their own (compared to a nondurable power of attorney which ceases when its originator becomes incapacitated). Therefore, a durable power of attorney for health care legally allows another person to make medical decisions for you if you cannot.

As you consider a DPOAHC for your adult son or daughter, it may also be a good time to review non-medical powers of attorney for them, as well as the same for you and your spouse.  Needless to say, this is also a good time to review your estate plan if it hasn’t been updated in a while.

We know this is scary stuff to talk about, but it is the smart and necessary thing to do. We hope you will never need to use it, but if so … you can rest easy. Now if you could just get that 18-year old out of your house… you really could get some rest!

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only. It is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter.