As elder law & estate planning attorneys, we often meet with individuals who are aged, or with family members related to them. Elder law covers a broad range of legal issues, including making sure the elderly and disabled have the proper planning documents, along with a plan to preserve their assets and to pay for unexpected long-term health care needs.

It is imperative for our clients to think about the future and to plan for incapacity, even if they are healthy. However, it is rare for individuals to think of planning for unforeseen circumstances for college age or adult children. Seniors are not the only ones who should be thinking about executing advance directives. In New York, an individual is no longer considered a minor once he or she turns eighteen. As such, parents do not have all the rights they once had when their children were minors, including the right to speak with physicians, hospitals, and the handling of finances for their children.

If you have a student going off to college, make sure they have signed a release to allow their parents to have access to health care information. In order to communicate with individual doctors and hospital staff, a parent will need to be appointed as agents on a Health Care Proxy. In addition, a Power of Attorney is essential for parents who will need to have access to financial information or obtain funds from accounts in a child’s name. At a minimum, the document should permit the parent to pay bills, engage in real estate transactions in order to assist the child with housing needs, and a host of other powers if the student allows.

An experienced elder law attorney should always draft a thorough and comprehensive Power of Attorney. And although a Health Care Proxy is a much simpler document, do not underestimate its importance. Don’t leave your child’s health or financial well-being to chance. We are here to answer any questions you may have.

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Elder Law Newsletter
for July 2022

Understanding the Responsibilities
of a Guardian

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