Important information for young adults or parents of young adults:
Once a person is 18, they are an adult in the eyes of the law. And parents no longer have the legal right to access their health care, school or banking records without the individual’s permission.
If you want to be able to easily help your young adult child – or if you are a young adult and would want your parent’s (or someone else’s) help if you were in an accident, became ill, etc., here are some steps in legal planning you need to help ensure peace of mind and safety:
- Say WHO can Make Decisions with a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Each adult needs to have a healthcare power of attorney. This document says who you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions yourself.
- Imagine you are on your way to your wedding and are in a terrible car accident. Your leg is shattered. You are unconscious – it’s too risky to wake you up to ask. The doctors present two options – amputate (less risk, no leg) or surgery and a 3D printed “bone” (more risk, a leg). Your parents want the lower risk option. Your fiancé wants the higher risk option (because completely unbeknownst to your parents, you and your fiancé were in rehab together and rock climbing is a huge part of your path to recovery). Who decides when there are no documents? A judge.
- Say WHAT Care You Want with an Advance Directive. This document (also known as a living will) gives the decisionmaker named in the power of attorney guidance on what sort of end of life care that you want.
- Terri Schiavo was 26 years old when she collapsed due to cardiac arrest. The lack of blood flow to her brain left her in a persistent vegetative state. After number of years, her husband wanted to remove the feeding tube. Since there was no living will, and her parents did not want the feeding tube removed, the case went to court. It remained disputed for over 10 years, with court cases, appeals, even rejection to being heard by the Supreme Court – and attorney’s fees paid by her husband and her parents. The question was “what would Terri have wanted?” So, what do you want? To be kept alive no matter what? Or to have treatments stopped in certain circumstances?
- Note: The WHO and WHAT above are often combined into one document.
- Give “Access Only” with a HIPAA Release. This document allows whoever is named in it to have access to your medical records. You can name a person here who you want to have access – and you DON’T want that person to have the authority to make any decisions.
- Jennifer wanted her friend to make medical decisions for her, but never finished the documents. She was in a car crash and suffered traumatic brain injury. Her mother, as next of kin, made all of the decisions from a place of love for her daughter, and prevented Jennifer’s friend any access. Jennifer wonders if she’d be in a different place if her friend had made the decisions: keeping to her vegetarian diet, the supplements she was taking, and advocating for newer treatments such as CBD and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Jennifer could have allowed her mom access with a HIPAA release and named her friend to make decisions for her.
- Share Your Documents. It’s important to share your documents with your decisionmakers. You can give them a copy, send them a pdf, or use a service such as Docubank, which allows these documents to be accessed by medical professionals anywhere in the world.
Finances and Other Matters
- Say WHO can Pay Your Bills, etc., with a Financial Power of Attorney. This document grants an individual of your choice the legal authority to make decisions related to the management of your finances: paying bills, dealing with a landlord, etc.
- For yourself: Schedule an appointment here for a “Family Wealth Planning Session”. Even if you don’t have your own family or “wealth”, this is the name of the initial appointment and the initial process – of gaining clarity on who you want to help you and what you have (to make it easier for your helpers) is similar for everyone.
- For your young adult child: You can gift the planning to your child! You can even make the appointment for a time that is convenient for your child. From there your young adult will fill out the homework and attend the appointment, and make their choices.