Always Your Baby, but Not Your Child Anymore

Picture this, your baby, the tiny bundle of joy you brought into this world, is now 18, legally an adult. Suddenly, the rules change. You’re still Mom or Dad, but legally speaking, you’re not automatically entitled to make decisions on their behalf anymore. Scary, right?

This a reality check that hits hard for many parents and we have seen it impact several families over the years. Let’s share one specific situation that illustrates the importance of this concept.  The names have been adjusted to maintain privacy and protect the innocent.

The Jones’s daughter, Michelle, turned 18 recently, and like any loving parent, they thought they could still make medical and financial decisions for her as they always had. But here’s where it gets tricky: Emily had reached adulthood in the eyes of the law, and without the proper legal documents in place, Jones’s authority over her decisions evaporated overnight.

Imagine Jones’s shock when Michelle had a medical emergency away at college, and they couldn’t access her medical records or make decisions about her treatment. It’s a nightmare scenario no parent wants to face. But here’s the kicker: it’s preventable with just two simple documents—a power of attorney and a healthcare proxy.

A power of attorney grants you the legal authority to manage your child’s financial affairs if they’re unable to do so themselves. This could include tasks like paying bills, accessing bank accounts, or handling investments. Without it, you could find yourself powerless in critical situations, like managing tuition payments or handling legal matters on your child’s behalf.

On the other hand, a healthcare proxy grants you the authority to make medical decisions for your child if they’re incapacitated or unable to communicate their wishes. It allows you to access their medical records, discuss treatment options with doctors, and ensure they receive the care they need. Without a healthcare proxy, you could be left in the dark during medical emergencies, unable to advocate for your child’s well-being.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “My child is healthy and responsible. Why do I need these documents?” I get it, no parent wants to dwell on worst-case scenarios. But life is unpredictable, and having these documents in place is like having a safety net. It’s not about assuming the worst; it’s about being prepared for whatever life throws your way.

So, what’s the takeaway here? As your children reach adulthood, take the time to have open and honest conversations about the importance of these legal documents. Encourage them to take responsibility for their financial and healthcare decisions, but also emphasize the importance of having a plan in place in case of emergencies.

And parents, don’t wait until it’s too late. Take action now to protect your children and yourself. Consult with a legal professional to draft a power of attorney and healthcare proxy documents tailored to your family’s needs. It’s a small investment of time and money that could save you from unimaginable stress and heartache down the road.  You can always let us know and we would be happy to recommend options on where to get these documents for your family.

Remember, your children will always be your babies, but legally, they’re not children anymore. By preparing for the unexpected, you can ensure that you’ll always be there for them when they need you most. Stay informed, stay proactive, and keep being the amazing parents I know you are.  Plan now and be prepared for the worst, but allow you to find more JOY in life because you planned!

If you are interested in exploring the benefits of having a Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy in place, our team would be happy to guide you, like the family we discussed.  Feel free to schedule a 30 Minute Zoom Meeting to see if this is something you need to be considering.



This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal, and/or tax advice. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. To determine what may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor.

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