Is your child turning 18? They may still need you to have their back.

by Andy Gutwein

Seeing your child grow up and become an adult is generally both exciting and somewhat frightening. They’re ready to take on the world, and now they can vote and even legally enter into contracts for the first time in their lives. For the average 18-year-old, though, they’re usually most excited about graduating from high school and ultimately getting out of your house.

In my mind, during this transition period in their life, it's good to give them the responsibility that comes with being an adult. As a parent and an attorney, I don’t encourage anyone to continue to treat adult children like they treated them when they were in elementary or junior high. They should begin being responsible for their own decisions and being aware of their own deadlines. 

However, what if something happens? What if they get sick? What if they get into a situation where they really need your help?

When a child is under age 18, you, as a parent, have access to their school records, medical records, etc.  Doctors and teachers will talk to you and even require your consent or approval for various items concerning your child.

But once a child turns 18, the rules change. The child is no longer in your custody, so doctors and schools can no longer share information with you without the "child's" consent. 

Hopefully your child stays healthy, adapts well, and nothing happens to them that would require your intervention or direct assistance. But, what if something does? How can you plan ahead and have the authority you need to intervene or get involved if needed?

The answer is pretty simple, actually: have your child appoint you as their power of attorney when they turn 18. Think of it as a birthday present. One that says, "you’re an adult now, but I still have your back if you need me." 

A power of attorney can be set up to be effective immediately, can name one or more persons as attorney in fact, and can even be set to expire at a certain time in the future. We often recommend children name their parent as their attorney in fact when they turn 18, and that the power automatically expires at age 25. For most 18-year-olds, this sounds more reasonable than something that lasts forever.

Think this might be a good idea for your children? If you have questions or would like to have a power of attorney prepared for your child, we'd be happy to help. We can discuss via phone or even email, and we can email you the document to get signed and notarized. We’re also happy to sit down and meet with you and your child, and have one of our notaries attend, as well. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible for you, so you have the peace of mind knowing you can step in and assist if the need arises.