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  • Writer's pictureWorley Elder Law

18 Means They're All Grown up- Right?!

Your baby is all grown up now and making their own way. Make sure they start out on the right foot!

While we may define it a little differently, an 18-year-old is considered a legal adult under Florida law. Your rights as a parent to make decisions for your child change suddenly when they turn 18. Since they are viewed as independent adults, you don’t have automatic access or rights to your child’s educational, financial, or health records, even if you’re the one paying the bills!

I’m sure if you’ve survived at least 18 years as a parent, you can imagine situations where it would be important for you to be able to make important financial and/or health care decisions for your child, even if they are legal adults… The time to take action is now, before they head off to college or fully subscribe to the concept that at 18 they know everything they need to know. Your child needs a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a Durable Power of Attorney (and in case you’ve been meaning to get around to that- so do you!).

A Designation of Health Care Surrogate should appoint you or another trusted adult in the child’s life to make medical decisions for them, if they are unable to. This and a HIPAA release would enable the medical staff to disclose medical information to you, especially in situations where time can be of the essence.

While the Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows you to have access to and make decisions on medical needs, a Durable Power of Attorney appoints you or another trusted adult to serve as the Agent of your child’s legal and financial matters. Why might this be an important document, especially if you’re trying to give them space to be their own person? Well, imagine little Suzy or Tommy is off volunteering abroad over the summer when the apartment 2 blocks from campus they’ve been dreaming of opens up- but the lease MUST be signed by 2pm this Friday. Without a Power of Attorney in place, little Suzy or Tommy’s dreams of off-campus living will be dashed. But! Because you were a forward thinking parent who set their child up for success, you made sure they had a Power of Attorney in place and the apartment is theirs! Parent of the year. 😊

One last point- if little Suzy or Tommy is blessed enough to have some serious assets already, then they should probably have at least a Will set up as well.

So here we are, end of July, school supplies hitting the shelves, and little Suzy or Tommy is trying to figure out how to pack 18 years worth of life into their car and even better, how to make it fit in their shared dorm room. Make sure their journey into adulthood starts with the proper supports in place.

Worley Elder Law offers an Emergency Documents package that covers these vital documents and so much more. It’s recommended for everyone, and perfect for those taking their first steps into their own identity, but not yet ready for full estate planning. Give us a call today at (941) 448-1302 and we can have your new adult set up faster than you can say “Let’s go sports team!”



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