If you’re the parent of a high school graduate this year, congratulations! You’ve put in a lot of time and effort toward their earning that diploma, and whatever their next step in life will be, you likely want to protect them just as much as you did while they were still in high school.
But before you pack that kid off to college or just an apartment across town, you need to know that when they leave, they will be taking some of the legal rights you had before they turned 18 with them.
Once a child turns 18, they are no longer considered a child in the eyes of the law. And you no longer have the legal right to access their health care, school or banking records without their permission. Here are some steps you should take before your child leaves the nest that will help ensure your peace of mind and their safety:
Create an advance healthcare directive. Once your child is officially an adult, they need to have an advance healthcare directive that will allow you to access their medical records and make medical decisions for them in case they become incapacitated. This is essential in case of an emergency. They will also need to sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form that allows medical professionals to share information with you.
Create a power of attorney. As with health care, once your child is an adult, you can no longer make financial decisions for your children or access their financial records if your child is become incapacitated. Your child should sign a power of attorney nominating you to be his or her agent under their power of attorney upon incapacity.
Will and Trust. In California, if you have assets less than $150,000 your assets do not go through probate at your death. Most high school graduates fall within this category so it is not necessary for them to have a will or trust at this point. However, if you child wants to leave his or her assets to someone other than their heirs at law or are approaching the $150,000 probate threshold, your child may consider a will and trust.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.