It can be difficult to contemplate that the first step after someone graduating from high school is estate planning, but in the next 6 months you might be preparing to finish your child’s college applications, take them on college visits and to begin to purchase the items that they’ll need to support themselves in college.

Age 18 is the first recommended age for creating an estate plan by using basic estate planning tools such as a healthcare proxy or living will or a power of attorney. One part of the estate planning process involves naming those individuals who make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and unable to do so on your own.

At age 18 you are officially classified as an adult for legal purposes, meaning that a parent no longer can make decisions for you unless you give them specific legal authority to do so. In the event that you are incapacitated, such as if you were suddenly involved in an accident or developed a disability for a short period of time, a power of attorney is the agent who is responsible for helping you make legal and financial decisions.

A healthcare proxy involves the person who helps you make medical decisions and a living will can be used to establish your end of life decisions such as artificial feeding and resuscitation. It can be difficult to contemplate that your new 18 year old or teenager needs to consider the estate planning process, but it must be carefully evaluated at the time that he or she achieves age 18.

It is likely that your teenager might reach age 18 before he or she graduates from high school, and it can be alarming as a parent to realize that you are no longer able to make decisions about your loved one, even though you may still view him or her as a minor while they are under your care and living under your roof.

Don’t forget to discuss the importance of these estate planning documents and the ramifications they may have in order to protect your loved one’s best interests.

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