Graduation & Estate Planning

Coming of Age and Powers of Attorney



Congratulations! Your child has made it through high school and may off to college. It is a great time of excitement, opportunity, and optimism. Unfortunately, because of the recent pandemic, there is still some uncertainty. Even without the pandemic, reality would eventually hit you--when your child turns 18 (in most states), it might be hard to imagine that little child, who once needed you for everything, has now become – overnight – an adult. Now your child is free to vote, marry, apply for a credit card, make medical and financial decisions, sign contracts, and live independently. No wonder the law calls this coming of age “emancipation.”


I do not write this to be the party pooper. Rather, my goal is always to help you continue to protect who you love. For example, if your now "adult" child gets hurt in an accident and needs somebody to make critical medical decisions, you cannot be the one to do that without your child having named you as power of attorney, even if you are still paying for your child’s health insurance. (Sadly, you may not even be able to receive information about your adult child's condition without a previously executed HIPAA authorization.) If that child is so injured that a guardian is needed, you would not automatically be that person. Court proceedings would be required and those are expensive, frustrating, and time-consuming. A health care power of attorney would avoid that headache and would give you the standing you need, in one efficient document.


Regarding money matters, you will not be permitted access to your adult child’s bank accounts unless your child has made you an agent in a financial power of attorney.


Even if you are paying for your child’s education, schools are not permitted to release educational records without a signed “FERPA” disclosure statement when your child reaches majority. See:

https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/safeschools/modelform2.html


Becoming an adult is a major milestone. Your child’s 18th birthday would be a good time to explain about paying bills, getting a copy of the child’s social security card and birth certificate, living independently, registering to vote, and signing contracts to rent apartments, for example, or make major purchases like a car.


Remember to include the powers of attorney in that discussion. They are invaluable when your adult child needs you, at a stressful time when you do not want to hear any “no’s.” Powers of attorney could save you and your child delay, heartache, and expense.


We would be happy to help you or your child with the proper powers of attorney, as well as other planning needs that become more urgent as we grow older. If you would like to discuss your particular situation in a confidential setting, call us today at 301.892.2713 or click here to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session. We will help you craft a plan that protects your adult child and gives your family peace of mind.


"Living with Your Bags Packed!"®


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Information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.