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IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD CHILD

By Scott A. Joseph, May 16, 2017

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD CHILD

The high school year is winding down and many parents will be sending their children to college or out into the workforce during the next few months. Once your children turn eighteen years old, they will no longer be considered minors. I recommend that you discuss the signing of a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney with your soon-to-be adult.

Once your child is over the age of eighteen, you will no longer have the legal authority to make health care decisions or decisions related to money on his or her behalf. Even though you may still claim your son or daughter as a dependent for income tax purposes and may be helping pay rent for an apartment, without written authorization your parental authority is minimized.

For Massachusetts residents, a Health Care Proxy is a document whereby an individual (the “Principal”) may appoint another individual (the “Agent”) to make any and all health care decisions on his or her behalf in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 201D allows residents over the age of eighteen to execute a Health Care Proxy.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 190B governs the power of attorney document through which an individual can authorize another individual (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to take actions on his or her behalf.  The powers that are given can be limited or quite broad.  Make sure that the power of attorney is “durable” so that the agent’s authority to act on your child’s behalf is not voided upon his or her incapacity – the time when most often needed.

The Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney are important tools to provide as your children fly the nest and enter the world of adulthood, but will allow you as parent to remain involved and help them in emergency situations.

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