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George Zamary: Congratulations to the Class of 2019; welcome to a whole new world of responsibility

Many students will be donning their caps and gowns and cherishing memories with friends. Most graduating seniors are looking forward to a new phase in their lives that may include jobs, military service, or attending college.


Regardless of what path is being followed, this is a time of reflection upon the past and the planning for the future. As a parent, it is your time to appreciate that your child is now a legal adult (although in your mind he or she is still your child).

The legal impact of this reality is something not to be taken lightly.

Upon turning 18 years old a whole new world of responsibility opens. Not only is the new graduate now able to vote and join the military but they can also execute legal documents without parental consent or approval. Also, a child’s right to privacy prohibits a parent’s right to access his or her medical information or deal with any financial issues that might arise in the event of a crisis.

A simple estate plan is likely all that is needed for any 18-year old. This would involve a will and a few simple powers of attorney. An attorney should be able to prepare these quickly and for a set price.

Will – A will allows your child to select who will oversee his or her estate. Odds are they have little by way of assets to pass on, but not setting forth a few basic terms can lead to confusion and ensures his or her wishes are followed by family and a court.

Healthcare Power of Attorney – Here, your child can appoint someone to make medical decisions in the event he or she is unable to communicate decisions related for medical care. This is often one of the parents but it can also be a friend or sibling. A properly executed healthcare power of attorney allows for a plan to be in place in the event of an unexpected medical issue.

Financial Power of Attorney – Again, this is useful in the event your child is unable to make decisions regarding the management of his or her finances. Although the personal assets may be minimal, this is still a helpful document to have in place. What happens if you can’t write the check to pay bills or need to buy or sell a car? Having a financial power of attorney allows the person designated to make sure your son or daughter don’t miss payments and negatively impact his or her credit score.

Having these documents in place provide an additional layer of security in knowing that your child’s needs are protected in the event of an unexpected emergency. As Benjamin Franklin notably state, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

A simple estate plan would make a very “adult” gift for you child and one that you will be thankful if the need were to arise. If grandparents, aunts, uncles, family members are wondering what to get your graduate, consider suggestion investing in your child’s estate plan.

George Zamary is the founder of the Zamary Law Firm, LLC

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