Colin Smith Law PLLC September 2019 972.773.9095

September 2019

Preparing for College Why Estate Planning at 18 Is Important

When I was in college, I was in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices on a regular basis to manage my then-deteriorating hearing and the issues related to it. I would not have made it through these ordeals without my mother’s help. She was able to make doctor appointments, research various treatment options, consult with physicians, and, in some cases, make medical decisions on my behalf. Thankfully, I was able to sign legal documents to give her authority to do these things. When a child turns 18, they are considered a legal adult and (regardless of their maturity or perceived lack thereof ) are responsible for their actions. A parent can no longer make choices on their behalf without some form of written authorization. Such paperwork — which is traditionally part of an overall estate plan — can be crucial to navigating a crisis situation. If an adult is hospitalized, the hospital staff is under no obligation to heed what any third party desires unless legal documentation states otherwise. Creating an estate plan (or at least certain parts of one) will permit a parent or guardian to make important decisions for their child when they are unable to do so.

We all know that accidents happen and emergencies can occur. Two documents can help a parent step in and help a child work through a crisis situation. Specifically, a medical power of attorney (which includes a HIPAA release) and a statutory durable power of attorney, if properly drafted, will allow one adult to act on another’s behalf. The statutory

durable power of attorney allows parents to make financial or legal decisions for another. A medical power of attorney allows one adult to obtain medical records and make medical decisions for another if they can’t do so for themselves. Remember that the situation can be reversed — that is, the parent may need the help of the child. If the child is a legal adult, they can help a parent through a crisis (if you want them to). If you’re unsure where to start or you want to learn more, feel free to call my office at 972.773.9095.

Most people have $10,000 or less in uninsured motorist coverage. On Texas roads, approximately 20% of the drivers are uninsured. If anyone is in a crippling car accident, that $10,000 may be all they get. Be sure to review your uninsured motorist limits coverage with your insurance agent. ESTATE PLANNING TIP

-Colin Smith | 1

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