Yes, they still are, and always will be your sweet little pumpkin; however, now that they are a legal adult, and you no longer have authority over their affairs, there are new issues to consider. We encourage you to peruse the list below to help you decide what is appropriate to act upon for you and your child.
Advance Health Care Directive
It is hard to consider our children being in a condition in which they cannot make their own health care decisions, but an Advance Health Care Directive is what will authorize you to make health care decisions for them if they cannot.
Power of Attorney (POA)
Similar to an Advance Health Care Directive, a POA is what will authorize you to handle their financial affairs (i.e. rent, credit cards) if they are not able to do so for any reason (i.e. traveling, health issue).
In the worst-case scenario for a parent, a Will is what will authorize you to handle your child’s affairs if they have passed away. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
As you would want for anyone you may need to step in for, knowing how to get online access to your child’s critical service providers (i.e. bank) is invaluable if the need arises.
If your child is off to college, you will find that their school stringently adheres to laws prohibiting them from releasing any of their information (i.e. enrollment status, grades, tuition invoices) to you unless your child has authorized it. Fortunately, most schools have a seamless way for your child to provide you with online access.
Other than 529 College Savings Accounts which remain yours, if any custodial accounts exist (Uniform Transfer to Minor’s Act, custodial IRA, custodial Roth IRA, custodial bank account), they most likely become your child’s account at 18, so it is time to coordinate with the relevant financial institution to make the necessary updates.
Now that your child is 18, they can have their own credit card, which is valuable for building credit and getting rewards so long as they can use it as a tool and avoid a debt spiral. www.nerdwallet.com provides a great credit card comparison tool that can help your child find the best credit card for their use.
Now that your child likely has a bank account, a credit card, potentially an investment account or two, and may have the responsibility of some bills, be sure they also have relevant education. The most critical topics to cover are banking, credit cards, budgeting, bills, taxes, and investing. If the thought of being your child’s Finance 101 professor is overwhelming, try Charles Schwab’s Moneywise www.schwabmoneywise.com.
If your child is in school and working part-time, benefits likely do not come into play. However, if your child has entered the full-time workforce, help them understand that benefits are a BIG deal. Most important among them is making sure there is a health insurance plan that provides good coverage, and ideally the premiums are subsidized by the employer. Alternatively, your child can remain on your health insurance plan until age 26. Arguably, the next most important benefit is a good retirement plan such as a 401(k), which ideally offers employer matching.
Aside from the above-mentioned health insurance, assuming your child is moving out of your home, they should likely have renters insurance to protect their belongings, the costs associated with their rental being uninhabitable for any period, and to protect them from injury liability stemming from others in their home. It may also be time to consider removing them from your auto insurance, but this deserves a conversation with your agent.
While on the topic of auto insurance, it is a good time to ensure your child is versed on the basics of car maintenance since they may not have you nearby to guide them. Make sure they are familiar with oil changes, brake checks, tire tread, tire rotations, tire pressure, windshield wiper blades, headlight/taillight/blinker checks, and service schedules. Kelly Blue Book has a good checklist here www.kbb.com/car-advice/maintenance-guide.
If your child does not yet have a Real ID or Passport, consider one or both. Upon request, A Real ID is normally issued as a driver’s license and is what will be required for domestic air travel starting May 7, 2025. A Passport is required for international travel and can be used instead of a Real ID for domestic travel.
Ensure your child is ready to take responsibility for seeing a dentist every six months and a licensed physician for a physical every year. At 18, it is easy to think of oneself as invincible, so impart to them the importance of maintenance so that they can feel the same decades later.
Hopefully this list provides a helpful launching pad for your little pumpkin, who overnight became a burgeoning adult.
The information provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as advice, including, but not limited to tax, legal, insurance, investment, or retirement advice. For your specific planning needs, please seek the advice of Integris Wealth Management, your tax accountant, attorney, insurance agent, or other professional as appropriate. Investing involves the risk of loss.