Trusts, Wills, and Power of Attorneys for your 18-year-old

When your child turns 18, it’s more than just a birthday. In the eyes of the law, your child has just stepped into adulthood, and is now legally responsible for his or her own medical care and finances. While there’s nothing wrong with helping your child out with college and health care, you are not able to make medical and legal decisions for him or her anymore. The only way that you can make these judgments is if you have the right documents in hand. When your child turns 18, you may want to consider creating a simple trust or will, a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney for him or her.

With these documents in your possession, you now have the right to step in for your kids in the event of an emergency. For example, if you are the successor or agent in your son’s trust or durable power of attorney, then you can sign checks and sell assets in his name. This can save him time and money, while allowing you to take care of complicated situations that he doesn’t have the time of or knowledge of. If you are not the successor or agent in your child’s trust, then any legal decisions that you want to make for him will need to go through the courts. This will start a complicated process full of paperwork, court costs, and more.

The same is true if you want to make or pay for your child’s medical decisions. If you have a daughter who suddenly falls ill and is placed on life support, then you don’t have the right to tamper with the doctor’s choices. The only way that you can weigh in on the medical decisions is if you have a medical power of attorney in place. With this document set up, you can help to make choices for your child, especially if she becomes incapacitated. She will need to make her wishes known through a recognized medical power of attorney. For example, a child can say that they wish medical decisions to fall to their mother or father when incapacitated. This will govern their choices.

In addition to medical and legal benefits, having a will or trust in place can help you in the sorrowful event of your child’s premature death. If you child should die, he or she probably won’t have thought to create a will. Most children and young adults are too consumed with the near future of creating a family and getting a job to even think about death. Yet without a will or trust, your child’s assets will be distributed in probate court in a typical court-mandated manner. If your daughter wants to make sure that you receive her prized ring, or that her best friend is given her wardrobe at her death, then it’s always smart to establish a will. If not the court will use their methods to distribute what property your son or daughter owns, regardless of how the deceased would have wanted it.

Remind your children that this will or trust will definitely need to be altered as they get older and move on to new stages of life. When your child gets married, has children, or goes through other significant changes, then he or she will want to include this into the will. Getting older is a significant responsibility, and your children need to start thinking about the duties of being an adult in American society. Like balancing a checkbook, managing a bank account, and buying insurance, it is important to start planning for an untimely death or injury in the future. While you certainly hope that your 18-year-old will live for years and years to come, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to will. Get assistance today to start creating these documents.