ATLANTA - This is the first week of school for many Georgia college students. For freshman this is a chance to gain some independence but with parents still within reach. But know that your young adults could be out of reach if you don't have the right paperwork in order.
You may still be on the financial hook for your 18-year-old, but in the eyes of the law they are adults and that means you - mom and dad - can be boxed out of very important decision-making.
Lisa Brown, a financial advisor from Brightworth, explains.
"They are maybe having their own checking account now or debit card, their own bank account. They are the ones responsible for getting themselves to the doctor each year and their medical check up. Or, Heaven forbid, they need to get rushed to the hospital. Mom and Dad don't have the same rights over their adult child as when they were a minor."
OK, let that sink in. Here's a scenario: Your child is in the ER. Maybe it's a car accident. Maybe it's a bad bug. You can't just stroll in and talk with the doctor about her condition. Unless- unless - you all sit down and fill out some paperwork first.
3 THINGS YOU WANT YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD TO SIGN
1. Get a WILL if they have any assets.
2. A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY allows a parent the authority to sign documents on the student's behalf and to access their financial accounts.
3. And, they will need a HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY.
"This adult child needs to have a healthcare power of attorney form naming Mom or Dad, or whomever, as their healthcare agent, the person who can legally talk to the doctors or surgeons in the hospital to make medical decisions for their child if they're in a coma," Ms. Brown adds.
Worst-case scenario, while in a stressful time, you will have to go before a judge to get access to your 18-year-old's health and financial records. And if your student is out of state, it can get even more complicated.