When your child reaches age 18, he or she is an adult and has all of the legal rights and responsibilities that comes along with that. He or she can legally enter into contracts and make decisions related to critical issues such as medical care. It is quite a shock to parents when they experience this for the first time. For example, a doctor that you’ve taken them to since they were babies may now ask you to leave the room during your child’s examination and will no longer share information with you. This situation becomes even more challenging for parents with children who have special needs. That is why, as a Fairfax special needs planning lawyer, I make it a point to educate parents about the importance of planning in advance.
If your disabled child has sufficient capacity to understand and execute documents, he or she can sign powers of attorney to allow someone (most likely parents) to handle their health and financial matters. By signing a financial power of attorney, the adult child can give you (or another trusted person) the authority to make financial decisions on their behalf. Similarly, a health care power of attorney gives someone the ability to make medical decisions for them. In addition to the health care power of attorney your child should sign an advanced directive (living will) and a HIPAA authorization which will allow a parent to have access to their medical records.
If your disabled child does not have the capacity to understand and execute documents, you may need to go to court to obtain a guardianship. Before authorizing the guardianship, the court must determine that the guardianship is necessary and appropriate.
If you need help determining if your child has capacity to execute their own documents or if a guardianship should be considered, contact the law firm of Sheri R. Abrams at 571-328-5795. We can help you evaluate your child’s individual situation.