3 Things Your 18-Year-Old Needs Before College (Beyond Bed, Bath & Beyond)

3 Things Your 18-Year-Old Needs Before College (Beyond Bed, Bath & Beyond) Rachel Donnelly May 31, 2024
3 Things Your 18-Year-Old Needs Before College (Beyond Bed, Bath & Beyond)

Last week was high school graduation for several school districts in Atlanta, and many of my friends’ kids are gearing up for college this fall. As I drive around my neighborhood, I see signs like “Future Yellow Jacket,” “Future Bulldog,” and “Future Ram.” Besides marveling at how these kids I’ve known forever are now adults, my next thought is, “Do they have a power of attorney?” Weird, I know, but hear me out.

Most parents will be raiding Bed, Bath & Beyond this summer for sheets, towels, and shower caddies, but what about prepping their kids for the things they can’t help with now that their little ones are 18?

As a parent, I know the mama bear instinct to protect will never end. But I know that once my kiddos turn 18, my legal right to access their medical, financial, and academic records vanishes, even if they’re still on my health insurance. If you want to keep supporting them in emergencies, especially with college on the horizon, here’s what you need to do.

I recently asked Kristen Rajagopal of Bequest Atlanta Estate Planning, who offers a College Care Package for college-age students, to help weigh in on some of my recommendations below.

Here are three must-haves for your 18-year-old before they head off to college:

  1. A Power of Attorney

This legal document allows you to make financial decisions on their behalf, ensuring you can step in if necessary. As Kristen explains, “In the case of a college student, a power of attorney can allow parents to manage their child’s financial affairs if they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own. For example, if your child becomes seriously ill or injured, you may need to access their bank accounts or sign important documents on their behalf. Without a power of attorney, you may not be able to do so.”

  1. Advance Directive for Health Care

This ensures you can make medical decisions for them if they’re unable to do so themselves. Kristen adds, “An advance directive for health care can be particularly important for college students who may be living far from home and without immediate family nearby. Creating an advance directive ensures that your child’s wishes are followed and can help avoid potential conflicts or misunderstandings between family members during stressful and emotional times.”

  1. Legacy Contacts/Online Planning Tools

Utilize platforms like Apple’s Legacy Contact, Google’s Inactive Account Manager, and even Facebook’s Legacy Contact (I know Facebook is “for old people” these days, but I had to include it just in case). Setting up these tools ensures that their digital life remains accessible to chosen contacts, so you can manage their digital presence if something happens.

I certainly understand that this isn’t something anyone wants to think about, especially during such an exciting time filled with new chapters and transitions. But as a parent of two teenagers approaching this stage, it’s something I think about often and want to share with you. I hope it helps you or someone you know.