Protecting Your Adult Children Using Powers of Attorney

Your children are grown up and out of the house. You are proud of how independent they have become, but you are still their Mom or Dad. You want to be there to help them if they ever need it.

When your kids were teenagers, you had parental rights over them that allowed you to step in during a medical emergency. But now that the kids are 18 or older, California law considers them to be adults. If an accident or serious illness leaves your child incapacitated, you would not have the right to automatically act as their agent regarding their finances and medical needs.

Fortunately, there is an easy way for you and your children to make sure they have you as a support system if they ever need it. Your adult kids can make you their agent in medical and financial matters using powers of attorney.

Financial power of attorney

Like other states, California law allows for two types of power of attorney. The first is called a durable power of attorney. This document allows your child to designate you to handle a wide range of their financial matters if they become incapacitated. For example, you would have the right to write checks on their bank account to pay their bills. This power ensures that someone will be taking care of your child’s money matters, no matter what.

Medical power of attorney

The other power of attorney document is the advance health care directive. This gives you the power to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf if they cannot communicate their preferences. The health care directive should also contain a living will, in which your child has explained how they want end-of-life care handled. Finally, a HIPAA release will give you access to your child’s medical records.

Being prepared for an unlikely emergency can be reassuring

Your children will likely get married eventually, and their spouses will take over these responsibilities if necessary. But it may give you and your adult kids peace of mind to know that you have prepared for the worst while they still need the assistance.

To make sure the powers of attorney are written and executed correctly, your child should consult an estate planning attorney.


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