Once your child reaches age 18, you as the parent no longer have the same legal rights to handle your child’s financial affairs, healthcare decisions or any of the other matters affecting your child. As long as your child is living and competent, the child is legally entitled to handle his or her own affairs; but if your child should become incapacitated, through injury or illness and the child is age 18 or older, in order to obtain control over the child’s financial and medical decisions, it will be necessary to file a petition with the guardianship court.
Not only is the guardianship process expensive, it also takes time to wade through the process, not to mention the ongoing reports which must be provided at least annually back to the court. During the time it takes to obtain the guardianship from the court, there may be no one who is legally empowered to act on behalf of the incapacitated child.
To avoid this result, we recommend that as soon as any child attains the age of 18 (and any child who has already reached age 18 but has not done this planning) the child should execute a legal/financial power of attorney and also a health care power of attorney. With these documents in place, if any of your children should become incapacitated, you will be able to immediately act on such child’s behalf, avoiding the delay, uncertainty, expense and added dismay which comes from the planning shortfall.
Each child reaching age 18 should have, at a minimum, a simple will. Because the legal/financial power of attorney expires at death, you may not have the legal right to administer your child’s estate; however, if the child has a will, a parent may act as executor and will have the right to handle the child’s estate. We hope we never have to face the task of administering a child’s estate; but let’s not make it worse from our failure to plan.
For a free consultation about Estate Planning, contact the attorneys at Grant Morris Dodds today at 702-938-2244 or fill out the form on the right.