Powers of attorney are very useful legal documents that too many people overlook. They give another adult the authority to act on your behalf.
Financial powers of attorney can give someone the right to access accounts and pay bills for you if you become incapacitated. A medical power of attorney can give someone the right to talk with the doctor and make choices about your health care if you’re not able to. Powers of attorney generally do not have any authority until someone experiences medical incapacitation, and they lose their authority once someone dies.
Although many people think of them as documents that protect older adults and those with serious medical issues, powers of attorney are important for younger adults as well.
Young adults often have no one authorized to help them
When someone turns 18, their parents typically lose all legal custody rights. That means they no longer have the right to make medical decisions on their behalf or to even access their health care records.
Unless young adults who have just turned 18 have powers of attorney in place, there may not be anyone who can manage their bank accounts or make medical decisions for them if they get into a car crash and are in a coma.
It’s easy to overlook these risks as a healthy young adult or the parents of someone planning to start a career or head off to college. Most families with young adults will never need powers of attorney. However, the possible risk of someone experiencing medical incapacitation and being unable to speak for themselves is reason enough to draft powers of attorney.
Having the right protection in place, like a simple will and powers of attorney, will help young adults safely and securely start developing independent lives.