Unpleasant But Necessary Documents for Your Older Teen

Having our oldest home this summer has been such a joy. He had a great freshman year at college, but it’s been an adjustment—for him, and for us! Even though he worked full-time over the summer, we made sure to squeeze in lots of family time. 

And we took care of one unpleasant but very important task. Now that he’s officially an adult, we helped him get some estate planning-related documents in place: an authorization for release of protected health information, a living will directive and health care surrogate designation, and a durable power of attorney. Here’s what they mean and why they’re important.

Authorization of release of protected health information. Once someone turns 18, they will need to have signed this form (or a similar one, a universal HIPPA release form) in order for parents to be able to gain access to their medical information. If your child is away at college and needs to be hospitalized, having this form in place will free the hospital to release information to you.

A living will and health care surrogate designation. This is a two-in-one form, although in some states it might be two separate forms. The living will enables your adult child to choose whether they would want extraordinary measures taken to sustain their life in the event of a dire accident or illness. It also prompts a decision about organ donation. The health care surrogate designation, also known as a health care proxy or health care power of attorney, enables your adult child to name someone to make health care decisions on their behalf if they are not able to make those decisions.

A durable power of attorney. This form enables an adult child to name someone to make financial decisions on their behalf if they are not able to make those decisions.

Completing these forms will force you and your adult child to contemplate events neither of you will want to contemplate. However, should they ever be needed, not having these forms in place will be far worse.

While the forms can be found online at a nominal cost, we used an attorney who said the total cost will be around $300. For something this important, I wanted the peace of mind of knowing the documents were exactly as they should be. Plus, using an attorney allowed for several rounds of questions.

All of the forms our son filled out had to be notarized and two of them required two witnesses. We simply went to our bank to take care of all that.

If you have an adult child, do they have these forms in place?

And if you have a younger child, have you picked up a copy of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management? Helping our kids cultivate a biblical view of money, along with biblical financial habits and practices, will make a huge difference in their lives!


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