Is Your Child 18? 4 Tips & More To Prevent Legal Problems
As the summer winds down (everywhere but Texas), many parents face a new experience–sons and daughters headed to college, moving out, or handling adult responsibilities for the first time. Follow these four NEED TO KNOW tips to help you and your 18-year-old prevent legal problems:
1. Obtain financial & medical power of attorney for your young adult
If young Josh forgets to pay his rent one month, a financial power of attorney allows mom or dad to talk to the landlord and settle the bill—protecting your son’s credit rating. Same goes if Emma ends up with a bad case of bronchitis and can’t speak for herself at the doctor’s office. Parents can step in and determine medical care. At age 18, your child is now an adult in the eyes of the law and needs help preventing legal problems. You have no access to information or input on decisions.
2. Update student checking accounts and more with beneficiaries and co-signers
Maybe you’ll be putting monthly spending money in a checking account for Madison. Or, you’ve set up a 529 plan to pay for Jake’s tuition and books. Possibly you have a will that hasn’t been updated in years—showing your ex-wife as a beneficiary. Take 10 minutes to add yourself as co-signer on a youthful checking account and name a beneficiary. Same goes for updating beneficiaries on savings accounts and wills. You’ll then be able to access funds immediately if needed and avoid probate proceedings in Texas for these accounts.
3. Name a trustee for your estate – not your 18-year-old
Even the most mature 18-year-old doesn’t have the experience to handle decisions like selling a house, moving stock funds, and other major financial challenges if a parent is unable to do so.Update your will to name a reliable person as trustee for your estate, thereby preserving your children’s inheritance and making sure funds are spent as you intend. If you have minor children, naming a trustee for their care is even more important. Trustees can determine where your children live, apply for government benefits for your children, and speak to medical professionals. Good estate planning avoids any funds going to minors, so this won’t apply to seasoned experts like those of you reading this article.
4. What about your daughter’s dog (or cat, lizard, snake)?
If Ethan or Hannah leave Snoopy and Bootsy with you while they’re away at college, congratulations! You can always leave a small fund in a pet trust as part of your will. I also recommend naming the person or people who would take care of the pets. If you need further info on this subject, check out our article, Planning for Fur Babies.
As always, if you have questions or would like to visit more about these tips or other estate planning concerns, I’d be glad to visit with you personally at our office just north of Fort Worth, in Rhome, Texas. Call 817.638.9016 and ask for Travis Weaver or send an email to Travis Weaver at TWeaver@WeaverLegal.net.
By Travis Weaver, Attorney – August 22, 2017