Oops – Did you forget about this in your estate plan?
You’ve done a good job and have your estate plan in place with all your needed documents. What else needs to be done? Nothing – unless – you have young adult age children (over the age of majority, depending on your State, age 18-21+).
What happens when they’ve had a serious accident or worse? I know – hard to bear thinking about it. But it happens – and then the issues left unattended get exposed. Oops!
Most people think of estate planning as having to do with financial assets and real assets like their home. These are addressed by designating beneficiaries, custodianships, and other heir considerations (Guardians of the property). But, there are other elements of estate planning that deal with the person who is unable to make decisions for themselves (Guardian of the person).*
It is the guardian of the person issue I’ll talk about here. Parents do not have access to their adult children’s medical records or financial accounts. Parents can not make medical decisions for adult children. If you are appointed legal guardian (because you went to court since you didn’t have the proper legal document ahead of time), then you are under supervision of the judge.
There are advanced health care directives and durable powers of attorneys for health and financial affairs. Your adult children should name beneficiaries for appropriate financial assets so those assets don’t have to go through a probate process if one is required. Their own will (typically automatically goes through probate) or living trust (tend not to go through probate) help you manage their affairs just like your own documents aid in your own affairs.
Here are a couple of articles that expand on this issue:
Finally, while this article talks about older people, who we commonly think about on this topic, it also describes the main key documents needed even for your children: 4 Key End-of-Life Documents to Get in Order.
As a parent, I can relate with you not really wanting to think about such things. However, the news always has stories about the issues parents have when unfortunate things happen. One plans for the bad while expecting life to be good.
*I am not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. The purpose here is to raise an issue that most people don’t consider, and offer resources that may be helpful for your own estate plan, and especially for your adult children. Seeking the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney is certainly suggested.