My son is turning 18. What do I need to do in terms of my son’s estate plan, if anything?
Most 18 year olds don’t own any property of any significance (though obviously some do) so most people don’t think estate planning documents are needed. But remember, after a child turns 18, the law treats them as adults and this means certain independence and rights to privacy that they did not have before. The Will is often not as critical, particularly if the child really doesn’t have property of his own. However, in the event your child becomes incapacitated, even a condition that is temporary, an 18 year old has HIPAA rights and a medical practitioner will require your child to sign a release before sharing his health information. Maybe more importantly, a child’s mental health records would be off limits until the child grants his permission. By having two legal documents, a Durable General Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive (with HIPAA permission), a lot of expense and headache can be avoided as you will be able to access health records or make decisions on their behalf (as opposed to having a court intervene in the case where guardianship becomes necessary). The Advance Medical Directive should include HIPAA language. The Durable General Power of Attorney could be made effective upon the document’s execution or could be effective only upon the child’s disability or incapacity. While not great stuff to discuss with a child, having that peace of mind could be an important decision. As always, if you have questions or would like to know more about estate planning please contact Steven E. Shane at: firstname.lastname@example.org | 301.575.0313. Steve provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.