If you are the parent or legal guardian of a recent high school graduate this year, congratulations! If you have a child that will be graduating in the next school year, you have a very exciting school year ahead! I know this is an extremely busy time for your family. As parents, you have raised and nurtured your children for the last 17 years, preparing them to enter the world as an independent and successful adult. Even though they are leaving the nest in some form or fashion, you will still want to protect them just as much as you did when they were living at home.
There are many things that you have been through or are planning for… from prom to graduation parties. Then there is sending them to college, into the workforce, or off to their next adventure. Before they are out the door, there are legal issues you may want to address with them.
Actually for some, it may need to be addressed while they are still in high school. Once your child turns 18, they have a whole host of legal rights. Yes they can vote. They are no longer considered a child legally. What does that mean? Well, it means you, as their parent, no longer have a legal right to access their health care, school or banking records without their permission. Loss of this kind of parental control may prove to be frustrating if you are still paying the bills. However, it could also have a severe impact in case of an emergency.
There are some steps you can and should take with your child when they turn 18 to help ensure their safety and your peace of mind.
Create an advance healthcare directive.
Let’s say, theoretically, your child, now a legal adult is in a serious accident, has a health emergency or is for some reason incapacitated. If they are rushed to emergency, you will not be notified. Why? Because technically they are a legal adult and you may be estranged. They will need to have an advance healthcare directive and an authorization for release of medical records (HIPAA) for you to be notified if something happens, to view medical records, make medical decisions and speak to their healthcare providers.
Now let’s say, theoretically, your child, now a legal adult, is unable to take care of their financial responsibilities because they are incapacitated. Designating you as their financial power of attorney allows you to pay their bills, manage their bank accounts, etc. until they are able.
There are free apps for their phones that they can download and list you as their primary contact In Case of Emergency (ICE). This app should be on their front home page.
You don’t have to pay us to attend a class to learn how to protect your children. We offer a free one hour consultation ($250 value) to identify the best ways for you to protect your family. It can be for your legal, or about to be legal, child, as well as the rest of your family. We will help you put a plan in place to protect your child now and well into the future.
Have a conversation with your child about the responsibilities and consequences of turning 18. Whether it is going to college or entering the workforce, your son/daughter is going to be presented with new situations and opportunities that high school simply did not prepare them for. This may include things like opening a school bank account or applying for a credit card.