Recently my son turned 18. In Connecticut this is considered the age of majority. In other words, he can make his own decisions. Well, that’s what the law says. However, he’s still living under my roof, so he’s got to deal with me. It’s probably more accurate, though, to say that I have to deal with him.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows one or more individuals to act on someone’s behalf. This power could be broadly based or limited to a particular situation. An example of a limited Power of Attorney is when someone designates an attorney to represent them at a real estate closing.
Why do you need this document? When someone turns the age of majority, their information becomes confidential. For example, my son’s grades in college will not come to me, they will go to him. This can be easily addressed. We stop paying for college or we just change the locks on the house. More importantly, any medical provider no longer has to share any information with us. However, they will share this information if we present the Power of Attorney to them. Without a Power of Attorney we need to head off to probate court to get appointed as conservator. This takes time causing delays and has expenses associated with it.
What should you do if you have a child that recently turned the age of majority?
- Have a conversation with them about why you would like them to give you a Power of Attorney. Explain to them why this is important to both of you.
- Make an appointment with your estate planning attorney. If you don’t have one, ask your family or friends for a referral.
- Have the estate planning attorney prepare a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy for your child. A Health Care Proxy allows the person holding this proxy to make health care decisions for the person who gave it to them if they become incapacitated.
- Keep these with your estate planning documents and other important financial documents.
How much does this cost? I paid $100, a very modest amount of money to have this handled.
You can’t control the economy. You can, however, control how you prepare for any future contingencies. Having this handled should give you some piece of mind.
ACTION ITEM: If you have children that are age of majority that are not yet independent, ask them to give you a Power of Attorney.
Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP®