Posted on June 29, 2021

Decision-Making Documents for 18th Birthdays

“Where’s my Car Keys?”

At a work event a couple years ago, I was commiserating with friends because most of us had children who were teenagers or young adults. I would have completely forgotten about the event except for something one person said about our kids growing up and transitioning from high school to college.

“I remember when my son turned 18. That morning I hid his car keys and wouldn’t give them back to him until he signed a power of attorney and living will. He was pretty annoyed because he wanted to go to breakfast with his friends, but I wouldn’t let him out of my sight until those documents were signed.”

My oldest child at the time hadn’t yet reached 18 so I filed away that comment and forgot about it.

But a few years later our oldest child turned 18. I don’t remember too much about that day, but I do remember waking up that morning with my friend’s story about the car keys flashing in my mind. It’s funny how something makes its way into our subconscious and shows up again out of nowhere.

The “Adult” Discussion

I didn’t hide my son’s car keys but within a few days after he hit his age 18 milestone, we had an important discussion. The fact was, we told him, he was now legally an adult and his mother and I were no longer able to step in and help him without his consent. 

We shared this “reality” with him: If he was at college and was injured to the point he became incapacitated, we would be powerless to participate in directing his medical care or managing his finances for him.

I explained that he needed two simple yet critical legal documents that would empower us to help him if it was ever required — a general Durable Power of Attorney so we could manage his financial affairs, and a Living Will so we could manage his medical decisions.  By signing those documents, he would never be alone if the time came when he needed us.

Get It Done When They Hit 18!

Since then, I’ve helped many of my son’s friends and our clients properly plan and protect their 18+ young adults with a Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will.  

The good news is the parents are now empowered to help their young adult children if they ever need that help. The better news is I’m unaware of anyone who’s had to use the documents due to their young adult’s injury or illness.

But we know if anything ever happens, the families who have completed this simple, yet important planning are well equipped for whatever comes up!

Estate Planning starts at 18! Click here for more information on our Young Adult Decision Making program, and to download a guide that provides more information.

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