Turning 18 years old is an exciting time for many. Most are getting ready to graduate high school and head out into the world to go to college, serve in the military, or join the workforce. Turning 18 is a pivotal moment in one’s life, and this moment comes with some legal considerations as well.
Many parents (and 18-year-olds) are unaware that when their children turn 18 years old, they no longer have the same decision-making powers they once had. In New Hampshire, once a person turns 18, they have total control over their medical and financial decisions, among other things. This means that parents will no longer have access to their child’s medical information, will not be able to make health-related decisions, and cannot automatically deal with their children’s finances.
Luckily, there is an easy solution to this issue. In New Hampshire, any competent adult at least 18 years old can nominate agents to act on their behalf when they cannot. So, while a parent no longer has the automatic ability to make decisions, their now adult child can nominate their parents as agents to assist them in times of need. The essential documents every 18-year-old should have are:
- An Advance Directive. This document has two functions. First, it identifies the agents who will assist in making medical decisions when the grantor cannot. This document becomes active at specific times such as lack of consciousness, altered state of mind, or whenever a doctor indicates that the grantor cannot legally make a decision. The second function of the Advance Directive is the living will. A living will provides instructions for the agent to aid them in decision-making during end of life events. The living will allows the grantor to make their wishes regarding end of life care known to those who will be making decisions on their behalf.
- A Durable General Power of Attorney (DGPOA). This document allows the grantor to nominate an agent, or agents, to assist with financial issues. Without a DGPOA, many institutions such as banks and utility companies will not communicate with someone other than the account holder. In the absence of a DGPOA, if the account holder is unable to handle their financial matters due to unconsciousness or other lack of capacity, a court would have to nominate a guardian. This takes unnecessary time and money. Having a DGPOA in effect will alleviate the hassle of going to court and will allow the agent to act immediately upon the grantor suffering from some form of incapacity.
- A HIPAA Release. Because medical information is made highly confidential by a federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), medical providers will want to ensure that a patient has signed a release authorizing them to release certain medical information to selected people. The HIPAA Release works together with the Advance Directive and allows the health care agent to receive medical information to aid in their decision making.
If you have a child who is at least 18 years old and they would like to have the peace of mind knowing that someone is able to step in for them if they need it, contact the estate planning attorneys at Alfano Law. We have a quick and easy process to get these important documents in the hands of your adult children.
You can contact Alfano Law by calling (603) 856-8411 or at this link.