I was recently asked a very common question by a husband and wife couple here in Nashville, Tennessee. This couple experienced a life changing event that every family will experience at one time or another during their lifetimes. This couple told me that their adult son was graduating from high school this May and would be going off to college at the beginning of August. This couple also told me that their son would be turning 18 years-old in the next few months.
I explained to this couple that in addition to all the other aspects of planning their child’s education as well as getting him ready to move off on his own and into college, there are also simple estate planning documents that need to be put in place for that son or daughter. I told this couple about a horror story a client of mine had experienced.
I told this couple that my clients, John and Jane, had a son go off to college and while he was there he had gotten into an accident. Although John and Jane’s son ultimately was fine, there was a period of time where he was incapacitated and unconscious while lying in a hospital bed. John and Jane had an incredibly difficult time obtaining medical records from the hospital immediately after the accident and even harder time authorizing the use of medical treatment for their son. In addition, John and Jane had a hard time paying their son’s bills while he was in the hospital recovering from this accident.
I informed this couple that John and Jane could have avoided this problem by simply putting in place two simple legal documents, a health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. I explained to this couple that John and Jane could have avoided this legal issue by simply having their son execute a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney naming John and Jane as their son’s agent. You see, now that John and Jane’s son was 18 years old, his parents no longer had authority to act on his behalf as guardian. However, if John and Jane were named as their son’s agent for financial matters and health care matters, there would have been no interruption, additional stress, or delay. John and Jane would still have been able to act on their son’s behalf such as paying their son’s bills, accessing medical records, and authorizing medical treatment for their son.
If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee and how you can set up basic legal affairs for your son or daughter going off to college, then I encourage you to attend one of our live free educational events scheduled this month. At these events, you will hear a lot of real life stories about families that paid thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses, families that were able to avoid unnecessary expenses, and families that enjoyed zero government intrusion into their private lives.
I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!