Many Arizona residents are returning from their final vacations and resuming normal work and school schedules this week. Here's what you need to know about predictable seasonal risks to protect your wealth and your family.
Addressing Your Parental Liability
High school or college age who may be living in your home and driving your cars. Those with children over 18 who live at a separate address, should seriously consider transferring title to their vehicle to the child and getting them separately insured to avoid being part of liability for their accidents. As a successful business person you are always a more attractive and collectible target than a student.
This title transfer usually isn't practical for minors, under the age of 18, so monitor their use of your property carefully, as we are still in the 100 deadliest days of the year. Heavy insurance (an umbrella of one million is the MINIMUM you should carry) on your home and auto coverage, including high limits of uninsured (UI) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage is a vital first line of defense. Insurance is your most basic, predictable and cost-effective line of defense against the risks that driving a car and owning a home present.
Talk to an experienced agent about insurance coverage for a home or condo you may have leased or purchased for them as an investment, it should be heavily insured for both loss and liability. If you are the lessee or a cosigner on a lease, you should be wary of any liability at the property and be heavily protected with high limit renter's insurance. Your life savings are at risk with every keg party, accident or assault on the property and these kinds of claims are common.
Estate Planning Documents Your Children Need
Every parent should have an estate plan that's drafted (and actually funded by transferring assets into it) more than 48 hours before you leave on vacation but your children may need some estate planning, too. As an example, an 18 year old with no independent assets of any kind may use a simple will if required to dispose of their personal property. However, a 21-year-old adult child with some combination of assets, real estate, savings, trust funds, or a spouse and children may need a full revocable living trust.
You should plan for life events that may require help from others, including yourself as their parent, not just their death. When your children turn 18, they are no longer subject to your legal authority. As adults, their healthcare, financial, legal and other authority is no longer in your legal control.
These are some basic legal documents to get in place now, before you actually need them and their absence causes panic and delay.
- Durable power of attorney for healthcare and living will allows you to make healthcare or end of life choices for them if they are incapacitated or have a medical issue;
- HIPAA release form grants you legal access to their healthcare info from various physicians and other providers;
- General power of attorney authorizes you to help legally control and access info on various issues they may need help with, including private financial, legal and academic information.
Each of these documents should be formally executed in a way that complies with the requirements of state law. A hospital, university, bank or landlord will not make an exception or release info or control because “I'm his parent”. Addressing these now, calmly and before an emergency, will protect both you and your children as the fall starts — and as they begin a new season of their life.