When our youngest went off to college, my husband and I began lamenting the fact that we would join the ranks of “empty nesters”. It turned out our fears were unfounded at least for the time being. The nest wasn’t really empty for a while. There were summers at home during college and time between jobs after college graduation when we got to enjoy the pleasure of having at least one of our children living at home again for a while.
When high school seniors approach spring their thoughts are filled up with getting ready to leave the nest and become independent. And they’ve turned eighteen, they are suddenly, in the eyes of the law, they are adults. One thing that means is that colleges won’t share a student’s grades with their parents without the student’s permission.
Even thought they are legally considered adults, most 18 year old college freshmen aren’t ready to be on their own. They still rely on their parents for financial support, emotional support, and help with their laundry. They are probably still on your medical insurance for their health care.
Most parents of 18 year olds assume that they will be able to continue to make medical and financial decisions for their college freshmen children when they need help. But once your child turns 18, you no longer have legal authority to make decisions for them or even obtain medical information, financial information, or their college grades unless your child gives you permission, that is—written permission in the form of a durable power of attorney and/or a healthcare directive.
By naming you as her agent in a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy, your young adult is giving you the legal authority to keep doing what you’ve been doing all along… be her loving parent and help with the tough decisions.