It is important to understand the legal ramifications of your child turning 18 in Arizona and New Mexico. Most likely, if you have an 18 year old, you might be asking yourself, “Where has the time gone?” It may seem like just the other day you were walking your daughter or son into kindergarten class for the first day of school; helping parallel park before taking the test for the first driver’s license; or taking pictures before heading off for the first prom.
Watching our children or our grandchildren grow and mature into adulthood brings many joyous and oftentimes tearful memories for us to cherish. My husband and I have four children – 2 in junior high and 2 in high school. Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of taking my 16-year-old son to the motor vehicle department’s parking lot in the evening hours to practice parking. What an experience!
As parents or guardians we have the responsibility to take care of and make decisions for our children. We want to ensure that we protect them along the pathway to adulthood. A friend recently told me about when her 18-year-old son was injured at a high school basketball game. He arrived at the hospital before his mother, and fortunately he was able to communicate with the doctors about his health care. When my friend arrived, she had a difficult time getting information about her son’s condition and treatment because he was no longer a minor.
What happens at the magical age of 18? According to Arizona and New Mexico law, an 18-year-old can go to war to defend and protect our country and vote in political elections. Also, he or she now has the sole responsibility for making his or her own decisions regarding finances and healthcare.
As our children have progressed along the pathway to adulthood, we as parents or guardians have made nearly every important decision for them. However, when our children reach age 18, Arizona and New Mexico law provides that a parent can no longer make financial or medical decisions as they had previously been doing.
In the matter of my friend’s experience related above, let’s assume her son was in a coma. Since her son was 18 years old, she no longer has control over any healthcare decision for him. Instead, as his mother, she would have to go through a court proceeding called a guardianship/conservatorship in order to make any healthcare or financial decision for him.
There is a serious misconception that estate planning is mainly something for seniors and grandparents. In fact, every adult should at least have a basic estate plan.
So, what estate planning should an 18-year-old have? At a minimum he or she should have a power of attorney for finances, power of attorney for health care, living will and HIPAA authorization to disclose protected health care information to those who should know of his or her condition and who might make decisions for health care if he or she cannot. Parents are often needed to take such actions.
As parents or guardians, we can continue to help and protect our young adult children if they have executed proper documents. At MH we have special documents and packages created specifically for new adults. An attorney at our firm can help you to complete these documents and ensure your young adult is protected for the road ahead.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, insuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!