When Your Child Turns 18

by Sep 5, 2019Financial Planning

Over the past 18 years, you have become comfortable giving your child advice on many topics, with the goal of shaping them into great neighbors, employees, employers, spouses, parents, and all-around terrific human beings. With any luck, the foundation you have laid for them will assist them in making good decisions now that they are 18 and potentially leaving home to start school or enter the workforce. 

Legally they can now make decisions on their own, but as parents, you will likely continue to assist them in many ways well into their 20s. To avoid the roadblocks and issues that could arise along the way, now is the time to prepare a few legal documents that will allow you to continue to assist your young adult.

Health Care Proxy

Before your child turned 18, a health care worker could share with you any and all medical information pertaining to your child whether they were routine test results, prescription information, or historic medical records. As a legal adult, your 18-year-old is now entitled to medical privacy as outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA, for short). Regardless of your good intentions, medical professionals are not permitted to share information without written authorization.

A Health Care Proxy will allow your young adult to appoint someone they trust (such as a parent) to make decisions for them if they are unable to make decisions themselves. This would include the ability to get information about your young adult’s condition, discuss options, express their wishes, and ultimately make treatment decisions. Hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers must follow the appointed agent’s decisions as if they were the patient’s own.

Power of Attorney

While a health care proxy deals with medical decisions, a Power of Attorney deals with a variety of financial and legal matters. In this case, your young adult can give a trusted individual (such as a parent) the authority to spend money and sell/dispose of property on their behalf. The power of attorney will make it possible for the trusted individual to access bank accounts, pay bills, sign documents, and manage various financial affairs if necessary. 

As with all financial planning, the opportune time to prepare these documents is before you need them. Planning early will provide you and your young adult time to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of these documents as well as an opportunity to discuss these topics with your family financial advisor or legal counsel. 


This publication contains general information that is not suitable for everyone. All material presented is compiled from sources believed to be reliable. Accuracy, however, cannot be guaranteed. Further, the information contained herein should not be construed as personalized investment, financial planning, or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change with market conditions and the legal environment. © Aug 2019 JSG