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Decision Making By Parents for Young Adult Children

Posted: November 17, 2017

Most parents recognize that their ability to act on behalf of their children ends when the child reaches the age of majority (age 18). However, many do not give enough thought to preventing the problems this can cause when young adults need their parents’ assistance with medical or financial decisions.

In most instances these problems can be avoided by having the young adult child appoint their parents as their “agent” by signing Powers of Attorney for financial matters and health care, and a Medical Records Releases and Authorization. Additionally, in some cases it may be also appropriate for the child to sign a Declaration to Physicians (more commonly referred to as a “Living Will”).

A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions grants to the agent the power to make financial decisions on behalf of the “principal”. It is “durable” in that the document remains in effect in the event of the principal’s incompetency.

A Health Care Power of Attorney gives the agent the power to make medical decisions for the principal. A Health Care Power of Attorney takes effect when the principal is unable to make decisions on his or her own behalf.

A Medical Records Releases and Authorization allows a health care agent to receive and release a person’s medical records. This allows a parent to monitor a child’s health care, to share the status of the child’s health care with family and friends, and to provide information to others who are in need of that information.

A Declaration to Physicians is a document that directs that artificial life support should not be used if a person is suffering from a terminal illness that has resulted in death being imminent or if the patient is in a persistent vegetative state.

A person must be legally competent to execute any of the forgoing documents. If a medical condition prevents a child from entering into them, then serious consideration should be given to petitioning a court to appoint the child’s parents as the child’s legal guardians.

Please let us know if you have any questions or would like our assistance with any of the matters discussed in this post. We would welcome the opportunity to be of assistance.

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