Promise Law July 2019

Promise Law Post www.PromiseLaw.com

(757) 690-2470

July 2019

What’s the Best Gift You Can Give Your High School Graduate? Peace of Mind

Recent high school graduates all across the country are excitedly (and anxiously) preparing for their first year as adults. Many of them are spending their summer days researching their new college campus, exchanging texts,

or DMs with their new roommate, and packing everything they can out of their childhood home to bring with them on their new adventure. While leaving home for the first time serves as a pronounced transition for all young adults, it’s often their parents who are stuck navigating the emotional stress associated with this change. If you are a parent or guardian trying your best to prepare your young adult for life away from home, I’m here to tell you that one of the most overlooked but important ways you can help them is by establishing a power of attorney and advance medical directive. I realize that when you’re thinking of care packages to send with your kiddo to college, legal documents might not top the list. But remember that while you may feel they will always be your baby, once they hit 18, they become independent legal actors. They might take out loans to help pay for tuition, sign a lease to rent an apartment with their buddies, or apply for a credit card, all of which impose contractual financial obligations. But just as “life happens” to parents, it also happens to their adult kids. Fortunately, there is a way to be prepared for it.

their financial and medical affairs if you have the legal authority to do so. If you haven’t been designated as their agent under a power of attorney or advance medical directive, you won’t have the ability to make the decisions you need to make as their parent. You won’t be able to terminate their lease, withdraw them from classes for a semester if need be, cancel credit cards, or make any necessary health decisions without this essential legal documentation. When serious illness or injury strike and the young adult doesn’t have the appropriate legal documents in place, the parents’ only recourse is to petition the court to become their child’s guardian and conservator: the protectors who are appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person due to physical or mental limitations. In Virginia, this process is time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. Some states have a separate system to handle cases like these, but in Virginia, parents have to petition with the circuit court, have an attorney appointed to investigate the allegations in the petition, then

schedule and attend a hearing. But this arduous process can be avoided if you take proper precautionary measures beforehand. As a parent who “daylights” as an attorney, the college care package I gave my own daughter was establishing a power of attorney and advance medical directive, and it has given both of us immense peace of mind over the years. Of course, every family’s situation will be different. For example, since I am a single parent, my daughter and I agreed to make her grandmother and her aunt the backup agents in case I am ever incapacitated. While this certainly isn’t the most fun gift to give your son or daughter as they embark on their journey to adulthood, it is one that will offer the most peace of mind and save you lots of time, money, and stress later on if you ever need to help that “baby” in a pinch. If you have any questions about how to get started, don’t hesitate to ask!

If your young adult child is in an accident or gets sick, you’ll only be able to help manage

www.PromiseLaw.com | 1 -Geneva Perry

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