A frantic mother once called me after her daughter was injured in a ski accident. When she called the hospital to find out the status of her daughter, hospital personnel would’t release any information and didn’t allow her make decisions on her child’s behalf. Just imagine the stress this caused!
This situation is all too common. When a child leave for college, for example, in the eyes of the law, he or she is now an adult and parental rights cease. This fact is often overlooked.
Once individuals reach the age of majority — 18 in most states — parents are no longer entitled to see their child’s medical and financial records, or make decisions on their behalf. The law classifies them as adults with a legal right to privacy and to govern their own lives. As a result, it is important to help your children or grandchildren set up an estate plan. Few 18-year-olds consider the
need for an estate plan because most have little in the way of property.
But if a child were to lose the ability to make or communicate decisions, medical professionals and financial institutions may refuse to consult with or release information to the parents. An estate plan appoints trusted individuals to make decisions in the event the child becomes unable to do so.