As parents we grow accustomed to having authority to assist in and/or make decisions for our children. We also expect direct, unquestioned access to our children’s medical and school records. All of this changes when our children reach the age of majority which is 18 years old in most states, including Ohio. Sometimes this may be an earlier age if the child is emancipated prior to the adult age according to state law (e.g. married or being completely financially independent of parents).
As your children turn 18, it makes sense to talk to them about the benefits of them authorizing you legally to still have access to information about them that you would otherwise be prohibited from receiving without their consent. The impact of not having been given this authority by your child once they are an adult can create significant issues which can impair a parent’s ability to aid their child in an urgent or serious situation. Parents should discuss this with their adult children and suggest that they sign powers of attorney for both financial and health care decision making. Through these powers, the adult child can identify one or both parents to be their agents and provide them with authority to make decisions and access information on their behalf. Generally, executing a General Durable Financial Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney would be most desirable. In addition to these documents, the adult child may wish to consider making advance health directives by signing a Living Will and making an anatomical gift donation.
If you have questions about what type of planning may be right for your family, contact Attorney Cheryl DeVore to discuss.