A note to Parents: Legal Protection for Young Adults is your responsibility

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by Eileen Nims

Your child just turned 18 and is off to college or work or is taking a gap year. Regardless of the choices your child made for starting his or her adulthood, it comes with a great responsibility. From here on out she is responsible for all contract, medical and financial decisions. This means that as a parent you are losing certain legal rights to make healthcare decisions, do financial transactions on your child’s behalf or take over the reigns when your child is not able to do so him or herself.

If you do not want to be left with your hands tied behind your back when it comes to your child’s health, wealth or well-being, it is crucial you have the proper legal documents to do so.

A Medical Power of Attorney allows young adults to designate one or more ‘agents’ to make medical decisions on their behalf in case they are deemed unable to do so themselves. Left alone, the “next of kin” will be given that authority, but family members do not always agree on who that would be or may not know what to do. In the mean time, the clock is ticking. Therefore it is of utmost importance for anyone over 18 to designate an agent and provide clarity during a time of chaos.

A parent needs to consider the complexities of contract, medical and financial decisions that might impact young adults

A Living Will allows the opportunity for the young adults to express their wishes on an advanced healthcare directive. This can be incorporated in the Medical Power of Attorney.

A Financial Power of Attorney allows young adults to designate one or more ‘agents’ to make financial or other business decisions on their behalf in case they are deemed unable to do so themselves. Left undesignated, there is NO DEFAULT person who can stop educational or financial disasters from happening when the young adult is incapacitated.

This document allows a designated agent to contact insurance companies, educational institutions, and landlords, and to address all other business and contract matters when the young adult is unable to do so. This will avoid any damage to educational standing or future credit scores when present circumstances prevent the young adult from acting on his or her own behalf.

Based in Mililani, Eileen is a Trusts and Estates attorney who received her law degree from Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. She is very familiar with Family Court and has also worked in the Circuit Court criminal division. Eileen also serves as a legislative attorney in the Hawaii State Senate and gives law clinics at Mililani High School. She holds a Masters’ Degree in counseling and has worked in that capacity for many years. Eileen believes in creating harmony and protecting families from preventable hardships. She can be reached at eileen@nimsesq.com or by phone at (808) 664-1834.

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