What to give your graduate?

Written by Jim Worthington on May 24, 2017

Many high school graduates will be 18 years old when they move out of their parents’ home for college or soon after doing so. Do you know what would happen if you needed to help your son or daughter with a bank account after the move? Or, what if you needed to get your young adult’s medical records? If the bank and doctor’s office are doing their jobs, they won’t talk with you.

Eighteen-year olds are adults and parents have no more legal right to their private information than any adult has to any other adult’s financial and health information. But, the solution is simple. Give your graduate a power of attorney and a health care directive before packing for college. The lawyer will have to meet with Joe or Jane College to explain the document and answer any questions. Those conversations will be privileged and the lawyer can’t reveal what was said. That’s true even if Mom and Dad are paying the bill. But, if all goes well, the whole family will have the comfort of planning for an emergency. And, your young adult will start to appreciate the importance of planning ahead and organizing his or her affairs.

Your child turning 18 is also a good time to look for any Uniform Transfer to Minors Act or UTMA accounts. Those belong to the new adult. While some parents have hidden those funds from their children and most families don’t end up in court with each other, courts will protect the account’s beneficiary after reaching majority and becoming its owner.