Unhappy Teenage Girl Being Gossiped About By PeersIn January of this year, an Illinois college student was studying abroad in Rome. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 20-year-old was seriously injured as the result of a fall. He has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized. The young man’s parents have flown to Italy to be with their son as he is recovering.

As an estate planning attorney in Illinois knows, the situation highlights the need for signed legal documentation even at a young age. Without the right paperwork in place, a child’s future could hinge on a court order.

The necessary paperwork

Forbes magazine recently published an article advising parents to encourage college-aged students to sign a power of attorney for both property and health care. Once a child turns 18, parents in most states lose their ability to automatically make decisions regarding medical treatment or money management. Should something happen, parents would likely have to get a court approval in order to act on a teen’s behalf.

As an estate planning attorney in Illinois may advise, 18-year-olds should put the following in place:

  • Health care power of attorney: Designates the teenager’s parents or other adult as someone who can make a decision regarding medical care.
  • Power of attorney: Appoints someone to manage affairs in the event that a person becomes incapacitated.
  • Living wills: Outline what someone’s wishes are regarding end-of-life care.
  • HIPAA authorization: Enables a teen’s parents or other designee to gain access to medical records.

Typically, teenagers will list their parents on these documents. In situations in which that is not feasible, experts suggest listing another trusted adult as well as a back-up designee who can serve should the first choice be unable to.

How parents can broach the subject

The New York Times published an article in September 2014 regarding a national panel that stated parents should start discussing end-of-life paperwork with children once they are in their teenage years. Discussing end-of-life plans with someone who is just starting his or her life may seem a little morbid, but it is a necessary conversation.

Experts suggest that parents remain open and honest about the conversation, answering any questions the teen may have. It may be beneficial to have the discussion prior to going to an attorney’s office so the child does not feel overwhelmed.

In some situations, parents may choose to make contingencies regarding such planning to ensure it gets done. For example, a parent may pay for college tuition or a car loan, but only if the teenager signs these documents.

Should you have any questions about Power of Attorney for your 18 year old or if you would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Litigation and general Business Law services.  Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.