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 son or daughter, this can impact your options with regard to their assets and limit your access to information in a number of ways.  

At 18, your child is likely heading off to college. And of course, we are currently in the midst of a pandemic. As such, it’s even more important for a parent to be able to help their adult children with legal, financial and medical issues- even remotely!

As a result, there are four important tasks to complete when your child reaches the age of 18.

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  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 his or her health insurance carrier, certain college professionals, or other providers, even in the event of an emergency. You are also not entitled to see their grades without a Power of Attorney. 

  1. 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 have no access to his or her 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.  

  1. You should provide your child’s college with copies of his or her 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.

  1. You should reevaluate your child’s UGMA/UTMA accounts.

If you have an UGMA/UTMA savings account for your child, those assets are his or her legal property and once that instrument matures (most often 21 years old or 18, if you designated that at time of account creation), 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 javelino@avelinolaw.com or 908 273-5730.

Avelino Law, LLP is a boutique law firm that has, for over two decades, offered the highest standards of legal services to clients in New Jersey, New York, Florida & Pennsylvania.

Avelino Law began in New York City in 1999, with its founding by managing partner A. Jude Avelino; the firm subsequently opened offices in Summit and Garden City, Long Island. With its emphasis on estate planning, including wills and trusts, estate administration, litigation and corporate law, the Avelino firm offers its clients over 20 years’ experience in maximizing clients’ asset retention and protection and their corporate and litigation needs. A. Jude Avelino holds an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell.