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It’s Ten O’Clock. Do you know where your 18-year-old son or daughter is?

Posted on November 19th, 2020

You probably do not. After all, they’re an adult. They may have started college or a job or moved out of your house. You see them when you’re lucky – for a meal on holidays or maybe when their friends are in town and they do you the favor of stopping by. You never stop worrying about them. They are not fully-fledged adults yet. But in the eyes of the law, they are in fact adults.

Most of us don’t start thinking of having a will until we get much older – when we’ve acquired enough stuff that we worry about what will happen if we die. We also don’t think about the need to have someone manage our affairs if we become injured or incapacitated. These things can happen at any time, to anyone, no matter your age.

I am not saying that everyone over 18 should have a will. Most states have laws that allow for the administration of a small estate that lets parents manage the assets of their children if the unthinkable happens. But I am saying that everyone over 18 should have two powers of attorney in place as part of their estate plan.

We recently drafted powers of attorney for two adults living and working in Bozeman. Their parents are miles and worlds away – they worry about their children and their ability to help them should something happen. These parents have a third adult child who had a sudden onset of an unexpected, undiagnosed illness. Within hours the child went from exhibiting symptoms to falling into a coma. Because he’s over 18, his parents were not able to talk to the doctors; they were not able to manage his affairs; they were not able to access his bank account. The parents were basically locked out from caring for their child and representing his best interest. Thankfully the illness did not continue, but if it had, they would have had to go to court to be able to get the authority to manage their adult son’s affairs.

A pandemic is wildly traveling through our population. We live in a crazy world and lead risky lives – unexpected things can happen.

Powers of attorney are simple powerful documents to have in place. They allow people you trust and know your life, to act in your best interest in the event that you are not able. We recommend that every adult have two in place – a durable power of attorney that grants your agent the ability to manage your financial affairs, carry on the things most of us have going on in our daily lives; and a health care power of attorney that grants your agent the authority to speak to doctors or other health care providers about your health, your medical care, and treatment. The health care power of attorney should be accompanied by a HIPPA release and long-term care wishes – a type of living will. By drafting these documents when you are well, you are identifying those people you trust to act on your behalf. Additionally, you are articulating your wishes, alleviating some of the stress that already exists in a situation where these documents are needed.

Are you a young adult? Do your parents, other family members, and friends a favor and put these powers of attorney in place. If you are a parent with young adult children, motivate them to put these documents in place, for your peace of mind.

For more information, contact an estate planning attorney from the Silverman Law Office today.

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