At the tender age of 18, your baby can enlist in the armed forces, vote, serve on a jury, get married, apply for a credit card, or even go to Cambodia for Spring Break. It’s a little shocking when you consider the brain isn’t even fully developed by that age. Add to that, the increased cost of living in Seattle and it starts to make some sense that there is a growing group of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who are more likely to be living in their parents’ home rather than living with a partner or in their own household.
The thing is that even if your “adult” child is living with you, if something happens to him/her, as a parent, you no longer automatically have the ability to make financial and health care decisions for your child. Instead, if something terrible happened, a guardianship court proceeding would be necessary before you could make decisions for your child. In addition to the cost, you would probably trigger a 60-day waiting period.
Luckily, there are a couple of documents that can help with the legal part and, maybe even instill a hefty dose of responsibility in your child. Specifically, your child should complete the following documents:
- A Financial Power of Attorney that names you (or another agent) to step in and make financial decisions on your child’s behalf. Bonus: It can also include a provision allowing you to obtain college transcripts!
- Probably the most critical document is the Health Care Power of Attorney. This document allows you to obtain health care information about your child and to make health care decisions if your child is unable to communicate. From a practical standpoint, this key document is needed in order for you the doctor, hospital, or student health center to be able to talk to you about your child.
Steely Dan might have celebrated the enchanting age of 19, but 18 is a magic age under the law and the job of a parent is always dynamic and never ends.