By Randall A. Denha, Esq.*
While we may know better, an 18 year old college student is generally considered an adult under Michigan. Your rights as a parent to make decisions for your child change suddenly when he/she turns age 18. You no longer have complete access to your child’s financial, education and health records, even if you’re still paying the bills. Since it may be important for you to be able to make important financial and/or health decisions for your child, it’s important to establish your legal ability to do so ahead of time. Therefore, your child should have a health care power of attorney and a power of attorney in place once he/she turns age 18. In certain circumstances, you should also consider your child preparing a Will.
Your child should sign a health care power of attorney appointing you or another trusted adult to make medical decisions for them, if necessary. A health care power of attorney should include HIPPA language, enabling the doctor to disclose medical information to you.
Your child should also sign a durable power of attorney, appointing you or another trusted adult to act as agent for him or her in a variety of legal and financial matters. For example, if your child is spending a semester abroad, you would be able to wire money from your child’s account, or sign important legal documents (such as a lease) in his or her absence.
If your child is lucky enough to have substantial assets at age 18, he or she should have an estate plan to direct where those assets should go in the event the child should die. Under Michigan law, if someone dies leaving only parents (no spouse or children), the parents get the child’s assets. This could destroy a parent’s well thought out estate plan.
*Randall A. Denha, j.d,, ll.m., principal and founder of the law firm of Denha & Associates, PLLC with offices in Birmingham, MI and West Bloomfield, MI. Mr. Denha continues to be recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by Michigan Super Lawyers in the areas of Trusts and Estates Law; a “Top Lawyer” by D Business Magazine in the areas of Estate Planning and Tax Law; a Five Star Wealth Planning Professional; Michigan Top Lawyer; Lawyer of Distinction; Best Lawyers; and a New York Times Top Attorney in Michigan. Mr. Denha can be reached at 248-265-4100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org