Do my adult children need Healthcare Proxies and Durable Powers of Attorney?

AnswerYes!!! These two estate planning documents are essential for younger people, too. Without them, in Massachusetts, as well as in most states, once a child turns 18, parents are no longer given access to their children’s financial, health and school records, without the consent of their now adult child.

Health Care Proxy: A Health Care Proxy appoints someone to be your Health Care Agent. Your Health Care Agent can make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to. It is essential that your child execute a Health Care Proxy appointing either you or some they trust as their health care agent. This way should the unthinkable happen, the Health Care Agent will be able to step in and make health care decisions for your child.

Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney appoints an Attorney-in-Fact to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to. Since the power of attorney is “durable” it remains in effect even after the person whom has given the power becomes incapacitated. The usefulness of a Power of Attorney can be immense. The Power of Attorney can be used for such innocuous things as helping your child with banking, by transferring money into or out of their personal bank account, to as serious as managing all of their financial affairs if they were to become incapacitated. In the event of incapacity, without a power of attorney you would not be able to manage your child’s financial and legal affairs without petitioning the court for guardianship.

As your child is an adult, they may appoint anyone they trust as their Health Care Agent and Attorney-in-Fact. We recommend your child revisit their Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy every couple of years to make sure the appointed fiduciaries still make sense. Your child can revoke or amend their Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy at any time, so long as they have capacity.

Additionally, now that your child has reached age 18, this may be a good time to review your own estate plan to make sure it still meets your estate planning goals.


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