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Take care of business with students on the edge of 17

From the Glenview Herald, "Estates Made Easy," column with Corinne Cantwell Heggie

Glenbrook South’s Women in Business Club (WIB) is a testament to the power of an idea and to the opportunities District 225 gives its students. For close to a decade, WIB has been serving its mission with the support of dedicated faculty.

WIB’s mission is simple: empower GBS women to see a future in business. WIB promotes its mission in the community at an annual Networking Breakfast. Here, WIB extends invitations to women in business, builds a program to give its members access to professionals, and creates conversations.

The breakfast is a destination for local women business owners as proven by the 2022 breakfast. There, I had the privilege of speaking with students and fellow professionals to exchange ideas, talk about challenges, and share experiences about business.

Many attendees were on the edge of 17, seniors charting their post-high school paths. Their plans vary, but their compasses shared a common theme: possibility. The theme echoed in the room and with me the rest of the week. These women reminded me that anything is possible with a plan, hard work, and dedication.

To be sure, at 18, the possibility is indeed the way of the world. While parents and guardians may have mixed emotions about all the possibilities, I ask them to pay close attention to the legal possibilities that become reality when a Titan turns 18.

At 18, the law treats you as an adult, capable of making medical and financial decisions alone. So, it should come as no surprise that the law allows an adult to identify people to help make medical and financial decisions for her if she cannot make decisions for herself. Parents and guardians take note: The law does not necessarily place you as the “legal decision-maker.” That is why your 18-year-old should sign two documents: 1. a health care power of attorney and 2. a property power of attorney.

For a health care power of attorney, an 18-year-old needs two pieces of information: (1) her name and home address and (2) a trusted adult’s name, home address, and cellphone.

If your 18-year-old signs a healthcare power of attorney and has plans to continue her studies, provide a copy of the document to the school. Make sure your 18-year-old has a digital copy of the document on her phone. If she has a roommate, encourage her to provide a copy of it to her roommate too.

For a property power of attorney, an 18-year-old needs two pieces of information: (1) her name and home address and (2) a trusted adult’s name and home address. An 18-year-old has a financial identity even if it does not include a home and a pension. She reports income on a tax return, spends and saves money with a bank account, participates in social media, and uses electronic devices. With a power of attorney for property, any sort of property can be protected if a trusted adult is named to act.

With respect to both documents, it is important that an 18-year-old appreciate her trusted adult will have broad power. This a good thing. Why? The law wants to hedge against uncertainty and, not to put too fine a point on it, tragedy. Practically speaking, this means an 18-year-old should be advised that if the adult acts, the adult probably will have access to her health care, financial, and digital profiles.

The members and faculty that fuel WIB guarantee that the future of business is bright. The students are gritty and determined, which leads me to believe they will not back down from a discussion about their legal rights. May this column be an invitation to parents and guardians to take care of business with their

Corinne Cantwell Heggie is a principal at Heggie Wochner Law Firm LLC in Northbrook,where she safeguards individuals, families and business owners from costly court battles, asset loss, and taxes with wills, trusts,

and powers of attorney. Corinne is a past president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and a board member of the North Suburban Bar Association. She andherfamilyareparishionersatOur Lady of Perpetual Help and are active in Scouting.

Estates Made Easy
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