Why Parents Should Consider an Estate Plan for Their “Adult” Children

In most states, when your child turns 18, 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.”

But if your adult child is 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 an agent under an Advance Heath Care Directive, even if you’re still paying for your child’s health insurance. That’s not fair parents! In money matters, you will not be permitted access to your adult child’s bank accounts unless your child has made you agent under a Durable Power Attorney for Financial Purposes.

When considering estate planning for young adults, especially those of college age, it’s vital to acknowledge the unexpected events that can occur. Shockingly, even at this stage of life, accidents remain a significant risk, with the number one cause of death for individuals under the age of 25 being accidental incidents, often due to negligence. In such tragic circumstances, not only does the child’s estate need protection, but the parent’s assets may also be affected. Having a will becomes crucial as it ensures that in the event of such a tragedy, both the child’s and the parent’s interests are safeguarded, directing any legal recovery appropriately.

If that child is so injured that a conservator is needed, you would not automatically be that person. A Conservatorship proceeding would be required and those are expensive as well as time-consuming. The last thing a parent needs when caring for an ill child is to have to go to court to get the legal authority to act on their behalf. Fortunately, this nightmare situation can be avoided with proper estate planning.

Even if you’re 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.

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.

We prepare “Basic” Estate Planning packages for young adults which consist of a Will, Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive. A basic estate plan is invaluable when your adult child needs you, at a stressful time when you do not want to hear any “no’s.” When my daughters Sophia and Julia each turned 18, I gave them each a “gift” and created a basic estate plan for them. The resulting peace of mind was priceless for me and my wife. In the end we were the ones that received the gift.

We would be happy to help you or your child their planning needs. If you’d like to discuss your particular situation in a confidential setting, please schedule time with us to do so. Contact us today at 877-585-1885 or schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters.

Thanks for reading.

Christopher E. Botti, Esq., Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law