Should Your 18 Year Old Have an Advanced Medical Directive?

by: Christopher T. Craig

The best estate plans includes the adoption of a robust Advanced Medical Directive (AMD). AMDs are legally binding documents that provide direction into your personal healthcare decisions and often focus on end of life decisions - when you cannot make those decisions yourself. An AMD is a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney, all rolled in one document. A person adopting an AMD sets forth their desired health care treatment in the event that he or she were to lose their ability to direct their own care (Living Will). It also designates an Agent with proper state and federal authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person (Health Care Power of Attorney).

AMDs are of course "standard" in estate planning for adults starting out, those with small or growing families and older Americans or those planning a hospital visit. But what about YOUNG ADULTS between 18 and 26? It's difficult to conceive but young people do get sick, injured and admitted to hospitals and other health care facilities... and in many cases they have never signed an AMD. The parents of 18 or 19 year old adults are often surprised when they are told that the doctor or other health care professional cannot legally provide information to, or seeking guidance from, a parent that could help with the treatment of their child without signed authority in the form of an AMD. Why? Because an 18 year old person is an adult. And worse yet, this news may come up at a very bad time: when the 18 or 19 year old becomes ill or injured. While wills, trusts, powers of attorney, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, beneficiary statements and other traditional estate planning tools are often very pre-mature or not necessary for an 18-26 year old, it's never too soon to have an AMD. For more information about AMDs see the following National Institute of Health web page.

If you are interested in having an Advanced Medical Directive, will, Power of Attorney, or a trust created for you or a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact us at 703-865-7480.

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