- Health Care Proxy: Once children turn 18, parents generally are not allowed access to their adult children’s medical records and cannot make medical decisions for their adult children. An adult child can give their parents this authority by executing a Health Care Proxy which includes a HIPAA authorization to allow parents to access medical records. The Health Care Proxy allows parents to make medical decisions for their adult child if the child is unable to make his or her own decisions due to a physical or mental impairment and is an especially useful document to have in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Durable Power of Attorney: The Durable Power of Attorney can be effective immediately upon its execution by the adult child and can authorize either or both parents to make financial decisions on behalf of the adult child. The scope of the financial decisions can be broad or narrowly tailored based upon specifics of the adult child’s situation.
- A Durable Power of Attorney can be very useful for adult children who are in college. Parents are often surprised to learn that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), prohibits colleges from releasing any information regarding their adult child’s education records once the child turns 18. This document can help with home schooling during the COVID-19 shelter period.
- A Durable Power of Attorney can include language which authorizes parents to access their adult child’s education records under FERPA. When adult children are struggling in college due to mental health or substance abuse issues, we have had clients use the FERPA language in their adult child’s Durable Power of Attorney to work with their adult child’s college to convert a failing grade to an incomplete to allow a child to retake the course when they are mentally or physically able.
- An Incentive Trust: Parents can use “incentive” Trusts to encourage their adult children to make mature decisions and rewards them for good behavior. The Trust is a written document which names a Trustee, who is responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust. The terms of the Trust would contain the “incentive terms,” which would instruct the Trustee to distribute specific sums of money or gift cards and merchandise credits to the adult child when the adult child performs certain positive and/or mature actions.
- Although one or both parents can serve as Trustee of the incentive Trust, it is often advisable for another family member (such as an aunt or uncle) or a trusted advisor (such as a lawyer) to serve as Trustee to prevent any friction or additional strain upon the relationship between adult children and their parents. Our Private Client Group attorneys often serve as Trustee of clients’ incentive Trusts, and we are well-versed in negotiating this challenging role.
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