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Estate planning to protect your children after a tragedy

Estate planning is, among other things, about creating protections for the ones you love before you need them. This way, when the unexpected happens, you can focus your time and energy on addressing difficult situations with your full attention and not losing valuable time and resources wondering what you will do now that disaster or heartbreak is at the door.

This is particularly true when it comes to planning for the care of your children. While your children are younger than 18 years old, you usually retain the legal right to access and control much of their personal and medical information, and even to make medical decisions on their behalf. However, much of this privilege evaporates once they turn 18, because they are then legal adults with a right to their own privacy.

If you do not properly prepare for this transition, you may find yourself at loss to deal with unanticipated medical emergencies your child may experience. It is wise to set time aside with your child before he or she reaches legal adulthood to discuss these issues. You can create a number of documents that protect the child's privacy while granting you access to private medical and financial records in the event of an emergency. This means that you have the legal structure in place to access your child's medical records and finances if he or she suddenly loses the ability to direct his or her own affairs.

Your child may suffer some tragedy that requires swift action to save his or her life or reduce suffering. Make sure that you take all the steps necessary with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to preserve your options if the unthinkable happens. These are steps that every loving parent can and should take to protect the child he or she loves.

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