You are graduating high school! You’re off to college! (Or you are reading this because you have an adult child who is!)
Which means you made it through years and years of school (congrats!). And, if continuing your education, survived the ACT/SAT, applied and were accepted to at least one college or university, and may be preparing to move out of your (parent’s) house to a new, and maybe out-of-state, home.
By now, you are 18 years old. (Or pretty close!) Which means you are, by law, an adult.
While you may be so lucky as to have parents who continue to love and support you as an adult, financially and otherwise, they can no longer make medical (or other) decisions for you when necessary, unless you actually authorize them to.
Can this be true? (After all, they have made decisions for you, without your authority, darnit, your whole life!)
If so, how can you do this?
And (unless something really bad were to happen) is it really necessary?
Yes: it’s true. Once 18, you need to give someone else permission to make big decisions about your property and medical care for you.
With freedom comes responsibility.
Yes: it’s necessary.
No longer a “minor” in the eyes of the law, it’s time to make major decisions about your stuff/property, your healthcare (and highly protected medical records), and life. And if you can’t, someone will need to make them for you. Rather than get permission from a court, you can give someone authority and direction ahead of time.
Even though you are still on your parent’s health insurance, or they are paying your tuition, or they claim you as a dependent on their taxes – aka you are still largely dependent upon them – your parents need written authorization to make big decisions for you when or if you cannot.
Instead of asking “why me?” consider this: “why not?”
Stuff happens. We cannot control everything (there is actually very little that we can). We do not wish for accidents to happen, but they do. When we see tragedy in the media, what we don’t always see is how, or how easily, it’s handled.
Given the option, it is always best to plan ahead — especially when you know what to do and it’s doable, which it is. Here’s how.
How? With legal documents. Simple but comprehensive ones name an “agent” to make decisions for you if or when necessary. (Your agent can be a parent, relative, or friend – anyone over 18 with whom you trust your life.)
And legal guidance.
Lawyers created these documents with a great deal of thought, trial and error (we learn “what works” or “what’s missing” when a case goes to court and the parties receive either a desireable or less-than-desireable outcome), and the intent to cover anything and everything under any given situation. And a lawyer can use these legal documents to create ones, based on your wishes, just for you.
When done properly and put to use, these documents will save time, money, emotion, and other resources, by keeping your family out of court and giving the person you name (your agent) direction and permission to make important decisions for you.
You are ready the day you turn 18. Add it to the list of things you need to do when you become an adult, graduate high school, and, if heading off, go to college.
Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand — you can’t have one without the other.
Taking this step to protect yourself, your stuff and your health, is a big step toward being ready for the great freedom and responsibility in your adult years ahead – whatever you do.
Now, off you go!
*This article was written by an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois. Nothing in this article is intended to be, nor can be considered, legal advice. Schedule a legal consult with BMB LAW GROUP today.