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Must Have Documents Before You Pack For College

GradsAfter what sometimes seems like endless years spent raising a child, their adulthood—and all the rights that go with it—may creep up suddenly. And much as you hope you’ve prepared them to take care of themselves, you may still be their fallback for emergencies. Getting the necessary authority to play that role can be a rite of passage and a learning experience for both parent and child.

Take a look at these two fundamental estate planning documents – the durable power of attorney and the health care proxy. Even though they are usually thought of as only for older adults and seniors, younger people need them just as much. If a young adult does not have these, typically parents will not have the authority to make health care decisions or manage money for their kids after they are 18. It does not matter if they pay their college tuition, include them on their health insurance, and claim them as dependents on their taxes. In fact, without these fundamental documents, parents might need to seek court approval to act on behalf of their young adult children in the event the children are in an accident and become disabled.

As high schools across the country hold graduation ceremonies, a Forbes article, titled "Two Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Sign," remains us of one unfortunate statistic: accidents are the number one cause of death for young adults. In addition, a quarter-million Americans between ages 18 and 25 are hospitalized with non-lethal injuries annually. With those numbers, it pays to have the documents in order so that you can help take care of your young adult child.

A health care proxy, also known as a "health care agent" or "health care power of attorney," permits another individual to decide medical issues on your behalf. In addition, this document also allows the agent to access your medical records. The companion to this is a living will. This document lets you state your desires for your end-of-life care.

A parent is typically designated to be authorized for medical and legal matters, but in some cases it may be another family member, such as an aunt or older sibling. Either way, you should designate an alternate in case your child’s first choice is unable or unwilling to serve when needed.

It can also be extremely beneficial to have a signed power of attorney when your son or daughter travels abroad, too. In the event some happens overseas, the power of attorney can help you cut through some of the red tape in a foreign country.

Hopefully your son or daughter understands the significance of having these documents. If not, perhaps you delegate this “conversation” to your estate planning attorney. He or she can draft a back-to-school package, speak to both of you, and explain the documents. Paying for this consultation may turn out to be an excellent investment.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.  However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project.  Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707. 

Reference: Forbes (August 15, 2014) "Two Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Sign"

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Coronavirus/Covid-19
Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.