If you are the parent of a teenager about to become an adult, the realization that you lose the authority to make decisions for them when they turn 18 can be unnerving. Who will protect them? What if they need help?
While you must relinquish control when your child becomes an adult, they can still put protections in place that give you (or someone else) the right to make crucial decisions in certain situations. This includes having a power of attorney.
What a power of attorney designation accomplishes
At 18, your child has the right to decide where they live, how they manage money and what medical care they want.
However, if they should ever become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions, someone else will need to make them. Before they turned 18, you were likely the person who would do this. But when they are adults, you do not automatically have this authority.
Designating a power of attorney identifies the person who will have the legal standing to do a variety of things. Depending on the type of power of attorney, these acts can include:
- Signing a contract for the principal
- Paying bills for them
- Selling their home
- Accessing medical records
- Making medical decisions
Without a power of attorney designation, you may have to navigate a complicated, stressful legal process to secure the right to make these decisions for your adult child.
Do we really need one?
If your child is healthy and independent, they may not think they need to designate power of attorney. However, it can be a crucial component of an estate plan, which every adult should have.
Further, emergencies can arise when they need you to help them. They may need someone with power of attorney if they are in a serious accident, are outside of the country or if they are unconscious.
These scenarios may seem unlikely, but they can happen to anyone. If your adult child legally appoints you to act on their behalf, they make these and other situations easier for you to navigate to protect them.