For advice and help in southern California with your estate planning needs, you should speak to an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney as quickly as possible. If you think that estate planning is exclusively for those who are middle-aged or older, think again. Even a young person – as soon as he or she reaches age 18 – needs the first parts of an estate plan: a durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive. The day your child turns 18, she or he is considered an adult under California law. This means that parents no longer have complete and unobstructed access to their child’s financial and health records. Parents are often surprised by the legal barriers that are established on a young person’s 18th birthday.
Without a signed advance health care directive, if your child has a medical emergency at a college – let’s say it’s a thousand miles away – you have no legal authority to make your child’s health care decisions. In a serious medical situation, that’s precisely the kind of legal hassle that you do not need. An advance health care directive is sometimes called a “living will.” It names an individual to make health care decisions on another person’s behalf.
A second important document that every adult in California should have is the durable power of attorney. This allows a parent to act on behalf of a child in the realm of contracts and financial decisions. For example, if your child studies abroad or becomes incapacitated for any reason, a durable power of attorney gives you access to bank accounts and gives you the right to deal with creditors and with other financial matters in your child’s name. If you have a child who is now a legal adult – or who is about to turn 18 – speak with your child, and then speak promptly with an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney about a durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive for your adult child.