Many of our clients here at Avelino Law, LLP are surprised to learn of the consequences of a child reaching the legal age of majority. Upon reaching the age of 18, your child is considered an adult in the eyes of the law, and even though you are probably still fully supporting your child, this can impact your options with regard to their assets and limit your access to information in a number of ways.
As a result, there are four important tasks to complete when your child reaches the age of 18:
1. Your child should execute a Power of Attorney.
Without a validly executed power of attorney granting you the ability to act on your child’s behalf, you will no longer be able to manage, control, or access any of your child’s assets or other personal information. You will not be entitled to talk to your child’s health insurance carrier, certain college professionals, or other providers, even in the event of an emergency.
2. Your child should execute a Living Will/Health Care Proxy.
Many parents are surprised to learn that without a Living Will that includes the nomination of a health care proxy, they are unable to access any medical information on behalf of their child. In a worst-case scenario where your child is in an accident while away from home, without this document you will not have access to your child’s information. In fact, if you call the medical facility of your child’s college, they won’t be able to release any information to you whatsoever without your child’s express consent or this document.
3. You should provide your child’s college with copies of the newly executed Power of Attorney and Living Will.
In order to avoid an emergency situation in which you are unable to access information, it is important that you provide these legal documents to your child’s college and/or health care provider.
4. You should reevaluate your child’s UGMA/UTMA accounts.
If you have an UGMA/UTMA savings account for your child, those assets are your child’s legal property and once that instrument matures (either at age 18 or 21, depending on the designated maturation age chose when the account was created), those assets are at your child’s disposal with no restrictions or limitations.
We have a number of strategies to help parents work with their children to make sure their accounts are used in the way they were originally intended – as a savings vehicle – and to ensure that the account funds are only used for important expenses.
With all the other stresses and expenses associated with the college experience, the relatively inexpensive process of creating these documents and implementing these strategies allows for peace of mind; and that’s priceless. It is a powerful tool to have these documents available in the event of an emergency. You hopefully will never need them, but if you do need them and don’t have them, it will only compound the original problem. Think and prepare for the unthinkable in advance.
If you have questions or are interested in a complimentary meeting to discuss any of the strategies addressed above, please reach out to Avelino Law, LLP’s managing partner, A. Jude Avelino, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908 273-5730.
A. Jude Avelino is managing partner of Avelino Law, LLP, and the leader of its estate planning and corporate departments. Jude can be reached by calling 908.273.5730 or by email at email@example.com.