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Who Can Speak for an Incapacitated Young Adult?

McNair Dallas Law

estate planning for young adults

Incapacity can occur because of illness or an accident. It can be temporary or permanent. That’s why every adult needs a power of attorney in place, once they turn eighteen.

The Press-Enterprise’s recent article entitled “Legal documents for young adults” describes some of the important legal and estate planning documents your “kid” (who’s now a young adult) should have.

They’ll always be your babies, but once your child turns 18, he or she is legally an adult.

Be certain that you’ve got the legal documents in place so you can be there for them in case of an emergency.

HIPAA Waiver. This form allows medical personnel to provide information to the parties named in the document. Without it, parents would be prohibited from accessing their 19-year-old’s health information—even in an emergency. However, know that this form doesn’t authorize anyone to make decisions. For that, a Health Care Directive is needed.

Health Care Directive. Also known as a health care power of attorney, this authorizes someone else to make health care decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.  This authority is “Springing”, meaning it only applies when the physician determins the individual can not consent to treatment.

Durable Power of Attorney. Once your child turns 18, you’re no longer able to act on their behalf, make decisions for them, or enter into any kind of an agreement binding them. This can be a big concern, if your adult child becomes incapacitated.

A durable power of attorney, whether springing or immediate, states who can make decisions for you upon your incapacity and what powers the agent has. The designated agent will typically be able to access bank accounts, pay bills, file insurance claims, engage attorneys or other professionals, and in general, act on behalf of the incapacitated person.

No one wants to image their young adult becoming incapacitated, but it’s better to be prepared so you can step in when needed.  Contact our office today to ensure your young adult has the legal protections they need.

Reference: The Press-Enterprise (April 2, 2022) “Legal documents for young adults”

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