If your son or daughter is turning 18, here are a few things you need to know:

  • If you have an UGMA/UTMA savings account for your child, did you know those assets are his/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?

What to do? We have strategies to help parents work with their children to make sure their accounts are used in the way intended - as a savings vehicle - and to ensure that the account funds are only used for important expenses such as tuition and housing.

  • It’s also crucial to be aware of your rights as parents once your child turns 18 in terms of medical information. If your child has an accident in college and they are 18, you have NO access to their Health records.

What to do? Get a Power of Attorney.

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The following, from a previous 'Are You Ready for Life' column, details further specifics as to why a POA is an important document to consider:

In the wake of recent on campus tragedies, there are some facts you should be armed with before dropping your child off at college. Even though he or she will always be your child, once turning 18, they are a legal adult with many privacies protected; disciplinary and medical records to name two.

While you spend months preparing and anticipating for everything your child might need for college, did you consider creating a Power of Attorney (POA) and Healthcare proxy for your young adult? A properly executed Power of Attorney allows a parent, family member or trusted friend to act on his or her behalf; even if only for a temporarily incapacitated child, to make healthcare decisions, manage money and access bank accounts. If your child gets sick or injured, a Power of Attorney may grant you access to otherwise private health records.

As we have seen too many times on the news; this is a real-life scenario. Accidents account for 46 % of deaths for people 15-24 years old. If your child is rushed to the hospital, their medical condition does not need to be disclosed to you under HIPAA laws, even if they are still under your health insurance. Even in less dramatic terms, if your child is travelling abroad or leasing housing, having these documents safeguards an already bad situation from turning dire.

Think you are entitled to see your son or daughter’s grades, just because you are paying tuition? While a college student, he or she is protected by a law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act(FERPA). In many states, FERPA prevents parents from seeing grades unless the child grants the institution permission to do so. A POA gives the agent (most often a parent) the right to access these transcripts.

With all the other stresses and expenses associated with the college experience, the relatively inexpensive process of creating these documents allows for peace of mind; and that’s priceless. It is a powerful tool to have these documents as an option. 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 POA, healthcare proxies or any legal matter, please contact us at lawyers@avelinohartlaub.com or 908 273-5730.

Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP is a boutique firm with primary practice areas that include: Real Estate; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Elder Law; Corporate Law; Land Use & Zoning; and Litigation. While the scope of the firm's services is wide, a key differentiator of the new firm is the insight, dedication to excellence, and commitment to client service within each area.

Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP has offices in Summit, at 47 River Road, and in Manhattan at 11 Park Place, Suite 1715. For more information, including a free and private consultation, call 908-273-5730 or contact lawyers@avelinohartlaub.com.