When an 18-year-old becomes independent, he or she is thinking about the benefits of being an adult, like living away from home. But being an adult comes with responsibilities that may not occur to such a young person. 

It is crucial for youth to understand the need for legal documentation. When a person becomes incapacitated, it can be unclear who has the legal right to make choices unless there is an evident directive. Parents need to consider this, too. If a child is severely injured in an accident or is otherwise incapacitated, parents no longer have the legal right to choose what is best for their child. 

Putting together a simple estate plan can ensure that there are no questions about who can legally make decisions. An estate plan suitable for a young adult needs two documents: an Advance Directive for Health Care and a General Durable Power of Attorney. Both documents provide legal instructions for who can make choices for an individual. 

An Advance Directive for Health Care gives someone the legal right to make medical decisions on a person’s behalf if he or she is not capable of authorizing the decisions. The Tennessee Department of Health provides information and a downloadable copy of the Advance Directive for Health Care. Once the document is notarized, it is a binding legal statement of the individual’s wishes. 

Power of Attorney gives someone the right to make other legal and financial decisions on your behalf, not just medical. Due to its complex nature, the Tennessee government advises seeking the assistance of a lawyer with power of attorney documentation.