The Livens Law Firm

The importance of a health care proxy in Texas estate planning

What are the benefits of estate planning? Security, clarity, peace of mind -- in short, estate planning can offer the knowledge that you don't have to worry about your loved ones' financial future or your long-term care. For many people, simply getting a foundational plan in writing frees up their minds in ways they never could have imagined.

We established this blog to discuss matters that are relevant to estate planning in Texas. In our Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin law offices, we help clients create the future they and their loved ones will inhabit. For many of our clients, that process involves planning for a range of medical possibilities.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch touches on this subject.

While most people begin thinking about planning their estate when they hit middle age, the process can (and should) start much earlier than that. With that in mind, parents of college-age children may want to go over some basic estate planning decisions once the kids become legal adults.

Because of the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, parents lose legal access to their child's medical records when he or she turns 18. That is, unless the adult child addresses the issue with a health care proxy.

The benefit of taking such a measure is that parents can avoid possible obstacles if their adult child becomes badly ill or injured and is unable to communicate his or her wishes. A health care proxy can designate the parent of an adult child as the person who, if necessary, can make health care decisions on the child's behalf.

A health care proxy is a good document to have in any comprehensive estate plan, no matter the person's age. But parents may want to consider talking with their adult children about this kind of medical directive. The conversation could also serve as a good lesson in responsible decision-making, which any parent will undoubtedly appreciate.

Source: Market Watch, "Why your kids need their own estate plan," Anne Tergesen, Aug. 6, 2013

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