By Stewart Koesten

When each of my daughters turned 21 years of age, I asked them if they would be willing to sign Living Wills and Health Care directives naming their mother and I as power-holders.  It occurred to me that should they contract some dreaded disease or have a debilitating accident no one was in a position to act on their behalf since they were single women, considered adults and we no longer had parental rights.  I recalled a case in Missouri where parents of a child – now an adult – living in a persistent vegetative state were not able to make medical decisions for their adult child.

A Living Will defines what efforts a person/patient would prefer to have in place for their care in the event of a tragic illness or accident.  It describes whether they’d prefer to have heroic efforts made to sustain their life if they were faced with a high likelihood of death if such treatments were not provided but recovery to normal health was not probable.  The Health Care Directive (a health care power of attorney) appoints someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Consider the following steps:

  1. Talk to your young adult children about their willingness to appoint you as their power-holder.
  2. Engage an attorney to draft Living Wills and Health Care Directives.
  3. Have children sign the documents (multiple originals are preferred to copies).
  4. Have attorney keep one set of originals, you keep a set of originals and have your children keep a set as well.  If you have access to an electronic vault (E-Vault), upload a copy so you can access the information via the internet.
  5. Give a copy of the documents to your financial planner.

As parents, most of us don’t usually think about these issues and how they may affect us and our children, but failure to do so can be quite disturbing.  These documents are inexpensive and  should be considered for young adult children whether they live at home or not.

For help integrating estate planning with your long-term goals, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Stewart Koesten –, or call (913) 345-1881.

Photo credit: More Good Foundation / Foter / CC BY-NC