Turning 18 is a big step for both the young adult and their parents. No longer a minor in the eyes of the government, certain privacy and independence laws now apply to them. You may think they’re still too young to worry about estate planning but think again.
Starting the estate planning process early has many benefits, even if your 18-year-old doesn’t own much of value yet. Here are three steps your young adult should take now that he or she is no longer a minor.
At this age, an individual can of course make their own medical decisions.
The Health InsurancePortability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)Privacy Rule (formally the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information) comes into effect for young adults at 18, when they reach the “age of majority.” This means that medical records are kept confidential between the young adult and their medical providers, not their parents.
Even if parents are paying for their health insurance and medical bills, and the child still lives at home and is being claimed as a dependent, the privacy rule applies. The bottom line is that parents no longer have automatic access to their child’s medical records once the child is 18.
When this monumental birthday is reached, the young adult will sign a HIPAA form on which he or she can indicate who may have access to medical information. However, they aren’t required to give family members this access. Note that if children are still part of their parents’ insurance plan when they hit 18, some information about the services they’ve received may still appear on insurance bills or statements.
Completing a medical power of attorney document, or an advance directive, will allow your young adult to appoint someone to make decisions about their health care on their behalf if they are incapacitated and not able to do so. Also include a HIPAA provision with this document, which authorizes the power of attorney to access medical records and information.
In Florida, a health care proxywith a HIPAA release will allow you to be designated by your child to make important medical decisions. Without this, you will not be able to view important medical records if something goes wrong, such as their previous treatments or facility admissions.
Aside from these importantmedical privacy changes your 18-year-old will experience, there are also financial considerations to take into account. If something happens to your child and he or she is incapacitated, you will no longer have automatic access to their bank accounts or credit cards.
As with a medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney is a document in which your young adult can appointsomeone whom they trust to make financial decisions if they can’t make the decisions themselves. This would apply to bank accounts, lines of credit, rental agreements, bills, etc.
This document can assist in other situations as well that don’t have to do with a severe injury or mental condition. For example, if your child is traveling out of the country or is in a bind where he or she can’t access financial accounts for some reason, you wouldn’t be able to help unless you were appointed as the durable power of attorney.
To take things a step further in our current digital-focused culture, think about what would happen to your child’s social media pages and photos and passwords if they were to become incapacitated. Estate planning at this young age allows the young adult to think about who they want to handle such aspects and designate those task accordingly.
If your young adult something happening in his or her name, creating a will is a good idea. These funds may comeunder his or her control at age 18. While creating a will is never the easiest process, since we’re faced with our death and, in this case, the untimely death of a young person, doing so will allow for one less complicated step if the worst does happen.
Without a will, Florida’s intestacy laws will take over the process after a death and the court will determine how assets are distributed. Encourage your 18-year-old to protect his or her rightful assets by creating a will and a detailed plan for distribution, should they pass.
Thinking about something happening to your child is not easy, but failing to plan can be expensive, stressful, and give you incomplete tools to help them if they are incapacitated or otherwise in trouble. It’s a good idea to take care of the logistics and allow your young adult to express his or her wishes now. If you have questions about estate planning for your young adult, contact our Boca Raton attorneys at Padula BennardoLevine, LLP. We can advise on the estate plan that will work best for your family.