Planning for Young Adults Amidst the Coronavirus

Jason Steinman, PA

In older blog posts, I have stressed the importance of creating an estate plan that will best suit your individual and/or family needs.  With all of the craziness and uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, this importance is magnified that much more.  In an article written in the Miami Herald recently by Jose A. Iglesias stated, “As the coronavirus crisis escalates, catastrophic projections of 100,000 to upwards of 240,000 deaths in the United States are forcing people to act on long-deferred intentions to get their affairs in order. No one is immune. Legal experts urge all mortals — not just the elderly and not just the wealthy — to put their end-of-life plans in writing.”

What we, as parents of young adults, often fail to think about is planning not for our children, but by our children. I, like many of my friends, am about to become an “empty nester”.  My older daughter is about to begin her senior year in college and my youngest is about to begin her freshman year.  As we scour websites to see what their dorms or apartments are going to look like, buy every school supply known to man and prepare for the inevitable parental tears from knowing that the kids are away and mom and dad are going to have to reintroduce ourselves to one another, we need to consider important legal documents that can protect our young adults and our ability to act as their guardian in emergency situations.

While I can agree, that while important, a Last Will and Testament may not be a priority for my eighteen year-old and twenty-one year old daughters – however, I cannot stress the importance of them having other essential advance directive documents in place.  In no particular order, I recommend that anyone over the age of 18 have the following:

Designation of Health Care Surrogate With Hipaa Authorization

A signed Designation of Health Care Surrogate communicates your wishes in case you are unable to make medical decisions or communicate this information due to a medical emergency or incapacity. This form will also contain a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization by your adult child naming you as a designated “surrogate” giving you the ability to ask for and receive information that would normally be protected from you from your child’s healthcare practitioners about their health status, progress, and treatment. Without a HIPAA authorization in place, the only other way to obtain information regarding your child’s health would be to have a court appoint you as his or her legal guardian.

Living Will and Health Care Proxy

A Living Will is a statement indicating you would not want to be kept alive by life-sustaining measures if in a coma or vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

Durable Power of Attorney (POA)

A Durable Power of Attorney authorizes a trusted person (tin the case of young adults, ypically parents or legal guardians who are referred to as “attorney-in-fact”) to make important decisions or conduct matters on behalf of the young adult, even after they become incapacitated. With a Durable Power of Attorney, the attorney-in-fact named would be legally permitted to take care of important matters for your young adult, if they’re unable to do so themselves. The powers granted to the attorney-in-fact are broad and provide the ability to make medical, legal, and financial decisions on the young adult’s behalf.

The thought of needing these documents is not something that any parent wants to think about. Unfortunately, with the Coronavirus being such a changing force in our daily lives, there could not be a better time to consider and prepare for this scenario.

While we are on shelter at home Order, I will be offering a fifty percent student discount on my advance directive packages for young adults between the ages of 18-25 or alternatively, to be included at no charge to be as part of a full estate planning package for the parents of young adults.

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