That's why Josh and I are sharing the M.U.S.T. List with you, so you can be sure your young adult child would be protected during any unexpected life event, and provide your family peace of mind. (You can watch Josh and I discussing the College M.U.S.T. List on CBS News Sacramento by clicking on the image above or clicking here.)
Here is the M.U.S.T. List to help keep your young adult child safe and protected during COVID-19:
Make Legal Documents. Once your child turns 18, they are legally responsible for their own life and decisions. Their medical information and financial information becomes completely private and cannot be disclosed to anyone, including the parents, without the child's authorization. Many young adults want their parents to continue to help them manage their finances, or make medical decisions on their behalf if they become seriously ill. They also would want their parents to talk with the doctors and hospital about their medical condition in an emergency.
However, without completing the necessary legal forms, such as a financial power of attorney, and medical power of attorney, parents cannot help their child during an emergency or act on their behalf. Imagine the despair parents experience when they hear their child is in the hospital, only to be told by the hospital that they cannot disclose why because of our privacy laws. Furthermore, with hospitals currently prohibiting any visitors from even the waiting rooms, many parents are completely left in the dark.
In formalizing their wishes, your young adult child will have the choice to allow you to act on their behalf any time, or just if they are seriously ill or unable to act. Having medical and financial power of attorneys will ensure your child is fully protected for any unexpected life event and that you as the parents can help them no matter what.
Understand Credit. I still remember my father sitting me down for an "important talk" when I was only sixteen, in which he randomly warned me about the dangers of credit cards. Sure enough when I got to college just as he warned, I was targeted daily on campus by card companies to open up accounts. I recall seeing a young girl my age buying clothes at the GAP who had swiped card after card until one finally went through because the others were all maxed out.
One of the best things we can do for our kids is to help them understand the proper use of credit and how their credit score will impact them for years to come. It can easily be game over before life has even begun if you fall into credit card debt. Let your young adult child know that when someone offers them a credit card, they are really just asking, "do you want to ruin your credit?"
Start a Budget.The idea of a making a budget often invokes thoughts of "no thanks", "no fun", and "restrictive", but budgeting is really more about intentionally using your money to get what you REALLY want in life. It also helps young adults understand the difference between needs versus wants.
There was a mom who shared with me that her college daughter called home because she needed to use her "emergency fund" to buy Taylor Swift concert tickets. Now, I'm sure the show was amazing but was definitely not what the parents had in mind for "emergency."
Given that now we are all in a real emergency, setting up a budget becomes more important than ever. Helping your young adult child set up a budget can help them set goals for their future and weather any future financial storms. And if having a budget sounds boring to them, remind them that a good budget can still include the fun stuff, and that nothing is that fun when you are broke!
Think Before Signing. As a lawyer, I cannot stress this point enough. It's natural to get excited or feel pressure, but no one should ever sign any contractual or legal document without fully understanding the terms. Too many young people (and grown ups) get locked into bad agreements, apartment leases, terrible car loans, or weird student loan programs that can affect them adversely for years because they failed to fully read and understand the terms. Caution your young adult child to always read the contract before signing and if necessary, consult with a more experienced adult they trust for input and guidance.
We care about you and your family and want to make sure all of you are completely protected during COVID-19. We want your young adult child to still feel excited about their future, and not have to worry about bad things happening and not being fully prepared. One of the best things you can do is to talk with your family estate planning lawyer and find out how to get these important medical, legal, and financial documents in place right away.
My team and I are all parents ourselves, and would love to help you protect your kids the same way we've helped protect our own. Please give us a call at 949-718-0420 and we would be happy to assist you with all of your family estate planning needs.
And a big congrats to the new graduating class of 2020!
Laura and Josh
p.s. If you haven't set up an estate plan yet, keep in mind that if you did pass away, your money would go through a long and expensive court process known as probate, and then outright to your young adult child without any age restrictions or protections! Now is the time to get your family completely set up or revisit the plan you have. Call us at 949-718-0420 or click here.