Turning 18 is a huge milestone for teenagers. It signifies a transition from child to adult.
While many 18-year-olds are excited by the ability to legally go out drinking, there are some important responsibilities attached to their coming of age. Everyone over 18 needs to appreciate that they are
part of the adult legal world and as such, they need a Will and Enduring Powers of Attorney.
As a parent, you are a legal guardian of your children until they turn 18. As a guardian, you can sign medical consents and make decisions on their behalf. What many people don’t appreciate is the change that turning 18 prompts. A parent is no longer a guardian, and if the 18-year-old can no longer make decisions for themselves for any reason (accident, illness, unconscious), they need to have nominated someone to make those decisions on their behalf. There is no default position or next of kin law that says a parent can make those decisions.
Enduring Powers of Attorney are the documents made to nominate a person (or persons) to act on your behalf if you are unable to act for yourself. Life can be unpredictable. At any age, people can have accidents or illness that renders them incapable of acting for themselves. Often that is temporary – sometimes long term. If that happens and your young person hasn’t made an Enduring Power of Attorney, someone will need to make an application to the Court to be appointed to act on their behalf. That is time-consuming, expensive and adds unnecessary stress at what is likely to be a very stressful time.
A Will is important even if you think your young person doesn’t have many assets. Even at 18 years of age, many people will have KiwiSaver, a vehicle (sometimes with an associated loan), bank accounts, and often a Student Loan. KiwiSaver balances can grow quickly when working regularly. If someone dies without a Will (intestacy) their estate is administered as per a set formula in the Administration Act. That requires more time and cost to administer than if they had made a Will. The formula under the Administration Act may not be what they wanted.
Young people also need to appreciate the importance and consequences of signing documents.
Student loans, hire purchase agreements, credit card applications, overdrafts, finance contracts, tenancy agreements, car loans – there are plenty of traps out there for new players. At 18 you can legally enter contracts and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The consequences of breaching your contractual obligations can have long-lasting effects on your ability to borrow money and buy property in future.
If you have a child over 18 and they don’t have a Will and Enduring Powers of Attorney, talk to them about the importance of getting this done.
You may even want to consider paying for it as their birthday or Xmas present. If you want further information, or to meet one of the team to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the link below: