Now that you are over 18 and headed off to college or on your own, decisions your parents used to make for you are up to you. Welcome to adulting!
In the past, your parents or guardians were responsible for your legal decisions. But, now the law views you as an adult and that all changes. Even though you may still be living at home or at college, your parents legally cannot make health care or financial decisions for you. You are responsible for making them on your own.
It’s exciting to be in charge, but there is also a downside: You no longer have an automatic safety net. You need to prepare one by creating your first estate plan. The word “estate” is misleading as it makes it seem like this is something only for older people or people with a lot of money, but estate planning is for everyone.
Your first estate plan at a minimum should include these two documents:
- a Health Care Proxy
- a Power of Attorney for Finances
These documents allow you to appoint someone else to make health care and financial decisions for you should you get sick or be in an accident and not be able to make these decisions for yourself. Think of these documents like insurance. You hope you never need to use them but in an emergency, you’ll be glad you have them.
A Health Care Proxy, also known as a Power of Attorney for Health Care or Medical Power of Attorney, allows you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself.
When you set up your Health Care Proxy with Gentreo, it includes a HIPAA release which lets your agent discuss your health history and treatment options with your doctors. You can also specify your wishes in certain situations.
By creating this document, you are empowering your chosen agent to make health care decisions for you when you cannot make those decisions. If you do not have a Health Care Proxy, your parents or other loved ones are not necessarily able to help with your care. They might need to seek a court order authorizing them to make decisions for you; that process can take precious time and money, let alone add emotional stress in what would be an already difficult time. Every capable adult should complete a Health Care Proxy.
A Power of Attorney for Finances, usually known simply as a Power of Attorney, is like a Power of Attorney for Health Care, except instead of appointing someone to make medical decisions for you, you appoint someone to make financial decisions for you.
You need a Power of Attorney if you have a bank account or any asset in your name alone, like a car. This legal document can enable someone you choose to make certain decisions for you. Without this document, your parents or other loved ones would have to get a court order to access your accounts or deal with your other assets. By taking five minutes to create this document, you could save your loved ones time, stress, and potentially thousands of dollars in legal costs and court fees.
In addition to a Health Care Proxy and a Power of Attorney, as an adult, you should also have an Emergency Card so that if you were in an accident or injured, first responders would know your medical history, any pertinent medication information, and most importantly, who to contact for you.
Together, these documents make up your first estate plan.
Once you have created these critical documents, it’s important to store them in a place where they can be easily accessed and shared by the people taking care of you and your affairs.
Gentreo offers our Digital Family Vault with sharing features so you can securely store your completed documents and select who you want to share them with. In the event of an emergency, your parents or other loved ones can access all necessary information at a moment’s notice, from anywhere.
We are here for you at each step of the way as you grow into adulthood.
Gentreo is designed to serve your needs as your life circumstances change. Now that you are viewed as an independent adult under the law, we’re here to help you create your first estate plan. Welcome to adulthood! We will be there for you at each of life’s important moments.
Join Gentreo today to prepare, plan, and protect your future, and help your parents or other loved ones keep looking out for you.