As shocking as it seems, YES! Whether your adult children are going off to college or heading out on their own for the first time, make sure that you help them protect their property and finances with a Power of Attorney. If ever they can’t make their own financial decisions, you’ll be able to help.
When your child turns 18, in most states, the law treats them as an adult. That means only they are responsible for the control of their bank accounts or personal property – any assets held in their own name. If your child doesn’t legally grant you agency in a Power of Attorney, you may have to go to court to fight for the right to oversee their financial decisions if they can’t make them for themselves.
Planning ahead saves time, money, and heartache. It is much easier to create legal documents before you need them. Don’t wait until a crisis strikes, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Make a Power of Attorney part of your child’s college preparation plans.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is an essential estate planning document. It lets you (or someone your adult child appoints) control their financial matters and assets. Under the law, generally when a child turns 18, they are considered an independent adult so you can no longer legally make decisions for them. Even though you may be financially supporting your college-age child and paying their bills, if the worst should happen and they become incapacitated, you would not automatically be entitled to manage their estate – the assets they own individually).
It sounds odd that your child has an estate. But “estate” is the legal term for anything they might own – maybe it’s a car you gave your daughter on her sixteenth birthday or a computer you bought your son.
Without a valid Power of Attorney, you would need to petition the court to become your child’s conservator to deal with any assets they own. Save yourself from the added stress and costs by having your adult child complete their Power of Attorney appointing you, or someone else they trust, as their agent to deal with their finances should an emergency arise.
What other documents should my adult child have?
All capable adults over the age of 18 should have at a minimum:
- A Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions
- A Health Care Proxy to give you or another trusted loved one the authority to make health care decisions on their behalf
- An Emergency Card
Creating these documents is not enough. The documents also need to be easily accessible from anywhere at a moment’s notice.
Gentreo is the first online estate planning tool that lets you create, store, and share state-specific legal documents. The Gentreo Digital Family Vault allows you and your family, including your adult child, to securely store and share documents and information so that during a crisis, everyone who needs it has instant access to all necessary information. Your adult child can invite you and other loved ones to be a member of their Gentreo Team so you will be prepared in case of emergency.
Gentreo lets you help your child quickly, easily, and affordably prepare the estate planning documents they need. We help you continue to protect them as they grow. Protecting your adult child legally is critical anytime, especially in the time of COVID.
You taught your child to brush their teeth, ride a bike, and drive a car. Now, you can guide them through an important part of being an independent adult – creating their first estate plan.