For teenagers on the brink of their adult lives, estate planning may seem like a task only older people in Oklahoma do. However, putting the right documents in place is an essential part of making sure that 18-year-olds and their parents are protected should a tragedy occur.
In Oklahoma and across the country, most parents lose their ability to make financial and medical decisions for their children once the kids turn 18. All too often, however, 18-year-olds still rely on their parents in some way, even if it is just putting them down as an emergency contact. Yet in an emergency, parents may have to jump through legal hoops to work with the teen’s physician if the teen is incapacitated.
Forbes magazine points out that there are several estate planning tools that can be used to ensure that a teenager’s parents can make critical decisions when and if the time comes. Those documents include the following:
- A living will, which enables the 18-year-old to determine his or her wishes for end-of-life care.
- A power of attorney, which enables a parent to manage any financial matters.
- A health care power of attorney, which enables a parent to make medical decisions.
Experts also recommend that 18-year-olds fill out a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act authorization, which would ensure that a parent could gain access to medical records.
Under Oklahoma’s Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act, a teenager could designate anyone who is compliant with the state’s requirements to manage health care decisions. For this and for the other estate planning documents, experts generally recommend listing a parent or guardian as the designee. In situations where that is not possible, another trusted adult should be given the responsibility.