Turning 18 is just as big a deal “legally” as turning 21. Yup 21 is more fun, but 18 is more consequential, legally speaking.
We tend to overlook this age because you get your license at 16 and can legally have a cocktail at 21. Age 18 is even more important because the law now considers you an adult (albeit a teetotalling one). Once we reach age 18, a parent may no longer be able to make health care decisions for us, nor can they access our financial accounts and records just by saying “I’m Mom,” or “I’m Dad.”
Your 18-year-old heads off to college, a gap year, military or community service. If they need medical attention and are not able to communicate for themselves, the doctor may ask, “Who is their Health Care Agent?” (http://www.consumerreports.org/health/help-your-college-age-child-in-a-medical-emergency/) Not having one could cause a delay in the receipt of necessary medical care.
Let’s say this same young adult is no longer in Massachusetts, or perhaps even in this country, and they need someone to access a bank account or financial record. If they have an account in their name only, Mom and/or Dad will not be able to access that account in that emergency.
This young adult should minimally have a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and Health Care Proxy (HCP) in place to name someone as their “in case of emergency” designee(s) for financial/legal matters (DPOA) and health care matters (HCP).
These documents are also critically important as this newly minted adult heads off to wherever this next phase in their lives takes them.