Parents of College Age Students: According to the Law Your Child is an ADULT!

August 13th, 2020

Here in Georgia, parents of college-age students have been surprised to learn that their children are adults. UGA has recently published guidance about college students, COVID-19, and sex, which has caught parents in denial about their children’s activities. Twitter and other social media has blown up over this guidance. And guess what may be news to Georgia parents? Once your child is 18 years old, your baby is an adult in the eyes of the law. This means that you don’t have legal authority to make decisions for your child any longer. So, it is important to plan ahead using powers of attorney.

Sending your kids off to college is a very emotional time, filled with excitement and understandable anxiety. Your baby is growing up and leaving the nest. And even though he or she is still your baby, as soon as your child is 18, you’ve got a legal adult. You’re thinking about things that may have never crossed your mind before and you need answers.

All of this means your child is allowed to make their own decisions without your permission or involvement. And unfortunately, that also means that if your adult child becomes incapacitated, you may not be able to make health care decisions or manage money for them absent a court order. This is true even if you are paying tuition, health insurance, and/or claim them as dependents on your tax returns.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t have to get a judge’s permission and court order to act on your adult child’s behalf? How can you continue to protect and guide your now-adult child? Have them sign two very important documents: A Financial Power Of Attorney, and an Advance Health Care Directive.

You might be thinking these documents are usually for the elderly, but every adult should have one. Accidents happen, are the leading cause of injury for young adults, so you must always be prepared.

1. Financial Power Of Attorney
This entitles a designated agent, or in this case, a parent, to make financial decisions on the student’s behalf if he or she becomes incapacitated. This document will allow the agent to access bank accounts, pay bills, sign tax returns, and make changes to financial aid, etc.

2. Advance Health Care Directive

Also known as a Medical Power of Attorney, this document allows an agent to make medical decisions on the student’s behalf in case he or she becomes incapacitated. The agent will also be able to access the student’s medical records and speak to doctors.

So even though you still think of your child as your baby, you need to be prepared for the law to treat him or her as an adult with rights. Signing these two documents will ensure you have more say in what happens to your child in case he or she becomes seriously sick or injured. If your child is headed off to college soon, then contact me to get a plan in place ASAP!