Power of Attorney for Adult Children
This may come as a surprise to parents, but once your child becomes an adult at 18 years old, you no longer can receive private information about his or her finances, medical conditions, or healthcare options.
Even more important, if your adult child becomes incapacitated by illness or injury, suddenly a void exists. As a parent, if you’re no longer the decision maker, then who is?
A solution is a durable power of attorney, through which your child authorizes you or another adult to handle legal or financial matters as his or her representative, or what the law calls an attorney-in-fact. In emergencies, or even if your adult child is away on an international trip, a power of attorney also can ease banking, insurance, or other financial transactions.
To sign a power of attorney, a person must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent. In Minnesota, clients often use the “statutory short-form power of attorney.” This document grants comprehensive authority and becomes effective upon signing, not just upon incapacity. So, it’s critical that your adult child has the highest confidence in the person he or she names as the attorney-in-fact.
Also crucial for young adults in emergencies is a healthcare power of attorney. It allows the attorney-in-fact to make healthcare decisions for the adult child. This document also helps simply if the adult child wants the parents to be aware of and participate in his or her healthcare matters.
Without these documents, a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding in court may become necessary for an incapacitated young adult. A court proceeding is expensive and takes time.
Families should know that even discussing these documents can cause stress about who is the best person to be the attorney-in-fact. But ultimately, the adult child makes the call.
I often get questions about whether people can create these documents themselves. As an attorney, I’m biased. I strongly believe that people should consult with a professional when they create such important documents. That said, people can prepare them themselves. But it’s important to comply with all requirements. Otherwise, the documents will be invalid.
By consulting with an attorney, clients can discuss the full scope of power-of-attorney options. Also, an attorney can help you surface and think about matters that you may not have considered.