How Old Do You Need To Be To Do Estate Planning?

Attorney Nancy Roberson was recently interviewed for the news show WHIO Reports, and one of the topics addressed was how old a person needs to be to do estate planning.  Watch the interview here.  The program contained almost 30 minutes of valuable advice about estate planning and discussed the topic of being prepared at any age for sudden illness or death.

Jane F. Wolk, a lawyer who contributed to a Consumer Reports articletitled Will You Be Able to Help Your College-Age Child in a Medical Emergency? states,"Once a child turns 18, the child is legally a stranger to you.  You, as a parent, have no more right to obtain medical information on your legal-age son or daughter than you would to obtain information about a stranger on the street."

The Consumer Reports article shares a frightening story about a parent of an 18 year old who was denied information about her son's medical condition in the hospital emergency room due to HIPAA laws.  The son was in the middle of a medical procedure, had not completed a HIPAA form or Health Care Power of Attorney, and was not in a position where he could give authorization for his mother to obtain updates about his medical condition.  A scenario similar to the previous story occurs very often with our clients who have children with special needs.  The child with special needs turns 18 years old and then suddenly the parent is not privy to information about the son or daughter's health, even though the parent still remains the primary caregiver.  It is for these reasons why age 18 is the "magic number" for starting the estate planning process.