Six Things to Consider When Your Child Turns 18

| May 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

It happens much faster than any of us expect. One minute you’re cradling this cute bundle of joy in your arms and the next thing you know she’s graduating from high school and planning to move out to college. Like many parents, I have no idea where the 18 years went, or how they went by so fast.

As a parent, there are several things I used to be able to take care of that are now a lot more difficult to manage. At 18 years old, that’s not a child standing next to you anymore. Legally, he is a separate human being with his own rights and obligations. Here are some tips that will make supporting your young adult a lot easier.

Durable power of attorney
Financial institutions (and college financial offices) will no longer share information with you, even though you’re the one paying the bills. This document allows you to make financial decisions on behalf of your young adult, and do things like open and close bank accounts, set up IRAs, negotiate contracts, etc. You’ll need it to be effective immediately in order to help with day-to-day details like college finances.

Advanced health care directive
Again, you might be paying for health insurance, but because she’s legally an adult, the doctors are not allowed to give you any information about your child’s conditions or treatment without her permission. If she’s unable to give that permission (e.g.: badly injured), the doctors can’t tell you anything unless your child has signed an Advanced Directive and given you authorization to discuss her healthcare.

How old is your girlfriend again?
Not many people consider age in their relationships (especially in high school), but turning 18 has important legal consequences. Any kind of sexual contact – even consensual – with someone under age 18 is against the law in California and can carry serious consequences.

Civic responsibilities
Voter registration and jury duty aren’t the only obligations that 18 year-olds face. Young men who turn 18 are still required to register for the Selective Service. Although there hasn’t been a draft in over a generation, the requirement is still there. And of course, now that he’s 18, he’s required to file and pay his own taxes.

Auto insurance
It’s a lot cheaper for parents to keep their young adults on their home and auto insurance policies than it is for your teen to buy it herself. However, be aware that teens are far more likely to be involved in an accident, and keeping your teen on your policy risks raising your rates and being included in any claims that arise from an accident. If you own the car, you should also own the insurance policy. In this case, keep your teen on your policy and make sure your liability coverage is sufficient to protect your assets and your income. If your teen owns the car, then she should buy her own policy, too.

What once might have been considered youthful antics meriting a stern lecture is now a criminal offense with real consequences. More importantly, once your not-so-juvenile delinquent turns 18, you probably won’t get a call from the police. If your child has a healthy appetite for mischief, make sure he understands that there is a big difference between 17 and 18.

Much of the joy of becoming a legal adult is overshadowed by the mad rush of college applications, senior year sports and other high school drama. As the dust is settling and my baby girl gets ready to pack up and leave the nest, I’ve realized that I’m looking forward to shifting my role from parent to being an advisor to a wonderful, amazing young adult. These six tips will help to make that transition easier for you, too.

This column is prepared by Rick Brooks, CFA®, CFP®. Brooks is Director and Chief Investment Officer with Blankinship & Foster, LLC, a wealth advisory firm specializing in comprehensive financial planning and investment management. Brooks can be reached at (858) 755-5166, or by email at Brooks and his family live in Mission Hills.

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