your child

When your child turns 18, have him or her do this!

Turning eighteen in the United States usually equates to being “grown’ish”. Oftentimes, 18 means your child is leaving the nest for the first time — and hopefully for the last time, right? This includes going to college, joining the military or moving to a major city in order to make their dreams a reality. They might think this is the year they no longer need you. They could not be more wrong about this.

When it comes to the wellbeing of your now-adult child, you should consider having a few documents on file in case of an emergency. Click To Tweet

I get it though: they should be old enough to handle their own emergencies. You’re ready for your next life chapter, and so you want to set them free, for good! This is the moment you have been waiting for. “Freedom dot com.” Free to travel, wake up later than usual and spend money and time on yourself.

However, if he or she were to become hospitalized, and you want to be there for support, some hospital administrators could legally keep you from seeing your own child if they are of the age of consent. Here is how to keep that from happening:

Obtain a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) allows for parents to act as the agent or attorney-in-fact on behalf of their adult children (called the “principal”) in medical-based settings. The document known as a health care proxy, patient advocate designation or healthcare power of attorney allows you to make decisions for your child in times of need. This includes when there may be documents in the emergency room to sign when your child may not be able to do so. A General Durable POA gives the agent or attorney-in-fact the authority to sign in the child’s place. A POA is also helpful if your child cannot sign financial documents during a home closing, or during an IRS audit. A fiduciary relationship is formed stating that the parent, or agent, will always owe fiduciary duties to the principal, or their children, regardless of the age of the son or daughter. Remember, however, that it is your child that must agree to create this document, identifying his or her choice in the fiduciary.

Create a Last Will and Testament

The need for a last will and testament (a will) is most likely the last thing you as a parent would ever want to think about for your children. If anything, you’re probably considering a will for yourself as it relates to your children (hopefully), not vice versa. However, the document gives your children a piece of mind as it relates to their wishes in the matters of banking, homes, cars and even their digital property, such as images on social media. If Facebook offers the option to entrust someone else to take over your account upon your untimely demise, then it is equally important to have a legally-binding document in place to allow the same.

With a last will and testament in place, your child’s belongings will be protected according to their desires when they themselves become a spouse and parent. Click To Tweet

Typically at this point in the discussion I’m told “my doesn’t have any assets!” That’s likely true. However, if your child inherits a large sum of money, they might not want that wealth to fall into the wrong hands if they were gone. Instead, the assets could be transferred to their children (if any), their siblings or to you, if an untimely death leads to you surviving them.

If an 18-year-old is already a parent — in other words, he or she became a teen parent while still in high school — you should also consider the wellbeing of your grandchild. The baby will require guardianship if your child is a single parent and can no longer provide care. Your child’s will is where this decision is written.

When your child graduates high school, college, the military or heading straight to work are usually the only options we think about. A POA and a will are also things to consider upon your child’s 18th birthday. Your estate planning attorney will draft both documents for you and your beloved brand-new adult. Contact our office to make this urgent decision before it is too late. As parents, we must always be prepared for the worst while expecting the best for our children, no matter how much of an adult they become. If you’ve ever needed proof that a mom’s or dad’s job is never done, here it is.


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