Turning 18 is a big deal because it means you officially become an adult in the eyes of the law. You gain the right to vote, to buy and sell real estate, to serve in the military, and to control your own medical treatment. And as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. When you turn 18, it is a good idea to partner with an estate planning attorney to make some arrangements for your future.
At J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C., we recommend that every newly-minted adult create at least two essential estate planning documents: the financial power of attorney and the healthcare power of attorney.
If you’re totally new to the world of estate planning, which we suspect most 18 year olds probably are, you might be wondering first what a power of attorney is. A power of attorney (sometimes shortened to POA) is a document that grants another person or organization the ability to manage your affairs if you are ever for some reason unable to do so yourself.
Financial Power of Attorney
Do your parents sometimes transfer money out of their savings account and into your checking account to help you pay for school expenses? Once you turn 18, they cannot do this for you anymore, unless their name is on your checking account. This is something you can cope with — there are other ways to transfer money — but what if you are incapacitated in a car accident and cannot participate? How would your bills get paid? You can use a power of attorney to appoint someone you fully and completely trust, such as a parent, to take care of your finances if anything ever happens that makes you incapable of doing it yourself. You could also grant a parent a broader power of attorney if you want the convenience of letting them handle your financial matters in a more everyday capacity.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Turning 18 also restricts your parents’ access to your medical information (giving it to them without permission from you would violate HIPAA) and their ability to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are, for example, unconscious after an accident or due to an illness. A healthcare power of attorney can remedy this. You can use it to loop them in to your medical information and grant them the power to make decisions for you when you cannot make them (or communicate them) on your own.
Who can help me set up my powers of attorney?
Whether you’re ready to get started now or you have more questions about what to do and why, J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C. is here to help. Schedule a consultation today by calling (866) 253-6994. We can’t wait to partner with you!