It may sound odd that someone at the beginning of his or her life should think about what might happen at the end, but in terms of estate planning, it simply makes good sense. At Luis E. Barreto & Associates, P.A., we have seen what can happen when Florida parents lose the legal responsibility for their 18-year-olds but still have the moral and emotional responsibilities.

In Florida, once a child turns 18, his or her parents are no longer able to make decisions regarding the teenager’s finances or health care. However, many 18-year-olds are still dependent on their parents in some way. Should an accident occur that leaves the teen in an incapacitated state, the parents would have to go to court to get the paperwork simply to work with physicians regarding key decisions.

Forbes Magazine encourages people 18 and older to look into putting together the followingestate planning documents:

  •        A power of attorney, which would designate someone to manage financial affairs
  •        A health care power of attorney, which enables the appointed person to make decisions about medical care
  •        A living will, which will enable the person to outline his or her wishes for end-of-life care

A HIPAA authorization may also be useful, as it could allow a teenager’s parents to get access to his or her medical records.

Your child should put you down as the designated person on these documents. While talking to your teen about these options may be difficult, it is an important conversation to have. For more information on this topic, please visit our page on living wills and other important estate planning tools.

Luis E. Barreto