It has been more than a month since my last post. If you have ever had children graduate from high school, then you can understand why. This past month was a blur of events, day and evening, academic and athletic, culminating in graduation events, informal and formal.
By the title of this post, you can tell where I am heading. Yes, it is "mea culpa" time. I know, I know, professionals of all disciplines are guilty of not "practicing what they preach."
We all know physicians who smoke like chimneys, financial advisors who are insolvent (if not bankrupt), dentists who do not floss and accountants who fail to file timely personal tax returns. All of these professional sins pale, however, in light of my own. Yes, it strikes close to home - mine and yours... if you have children who are newly-minted adults.
Here's what happened.
My twin daughters just graduated from high school a few weeks ago. Gretchen and I had hosted a graduation open house for them, inviting family and friends to gather and celebrate. This past weekend, however, it was our turn to travel the circuit to similar open house events for their friends.
By and large, conversations with recent graduates at these functions typically begin with the grownup saying "congratulations on your graduation" and then asking "what are your plans for this summer and fall?" So it goes.
Anyway, at whistle stop number two, I was approached by "Hannah*" whom I recognized, not only as a buddy of the twins, but as the daughter of a client. The first words out of her mouth: "My parents had me sign that legal paperwork you prepared. I guess everything is covered if I get sick or hurt when I am away at school, huh?" I was caught flat-footed. "Yes, that's right, everything is good-to-go," I responded.
Ouch. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I remembered that my own twins had been age 18 for some eight months. Despite my good intentions, I had not done for them what I had done for hundreds of the newly-minted adult children of my clients over the years. Truly, in this case, a cobbler's children had no "durable powers of attorney."
Epilogue. I am pleased to report that each of the twins executed the following legal instruments earlier this week:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions;
- Health Care Treatment Directives/Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions; and
- Anatomical Gift Declarations.
Question: If you have newly-minted (or not so newly-minted) adult children, have they signed these fundamental legal instruments to help protect them (and you) from experiencing the horrors of a "guardianship and conservatorship" (also known as "the lawyer full-employment program") in your local probate court?
* Name changed to protect the identity of a fortunate daughter of responsible parents.