Knowledge and Insights

How to Prepare Your 18-Year-Old for Financial Success


Your teenager is on the cusp of turning 18. As a parent, you want to ensure you make the correct financial decisions that set them up for a successful future.

18-year-olds are granted many privileges upon their birthday. It’s like turning a switch; the world suddenly considers them adults. This newfound status can be exciting and a little scary, especially for parents.


These new adults can own property outright, vote in an election, serve on a jury, get married, get a tattoo, gamble, and enter into binding contracts without their parents’ or guardians’ oversight or consent.

With the conferring of rights to the 18-year-old, parental rights are eliminated. Parents lose their right to access their child’s medical and academic records, plus the ability to exercise financial management and make decisions on their child’s behalf – even if their child still qualifies as a dependent for tax purposes. If your son or daughter finds themselves injured or disabled making medical or financial decisions for them will require their explicit consent or court approval – scary, right?


If your son or daughter is reaching this milestone soon, there are a few things you may want to discuss and consider putting in place once that all-too-important birthday arrives:

  • Have your 18-year-old child sign a durable power of attorney naming you as their agent, giving you the authority to make financial decisions and transact on their behalf;
  • Have your 18-year-old child execute a healthcare proxy (healthcare power of attorney), which authorizes you to make healthcare decisions on their behalf;
  • Be sure your son registers with the U.S. Selective Service within 30 days of his 18th birthday. This can be done at the post office or online at;
  • If your teen is attending college or other advanced training programs, become familiar with the school’s policy on access to student academic records and have your student sign necessary consent forms to provide access;
  • Have the money talk. Talk to your teen about money management, cash flow, and budgeting. “Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?” by Cary Siegel is a great resource;
    • Be sure to educate your emerging adult on their new adult status from a legal perspective. State Bar associations in our region provide informative booklets to help educate young adults on their legal status:
    • The New Jersey State Bar (NJSB) Foundation has an informative publication called Turning 18 in New Jersey;
    • The New York Bar Association’s relevant publication is called Now That You’ve Turned 18;
    • The Allegheny Bar Association in Pennsylvania has a brochure and an interactive website highlighting legal issues and responsibilities when turning 18.

Turning 18 is an incredible milestone, but it’s also a shift in rights and responsibilities that can take parents and teens by surprise. Don’t be financially unprepared when your child becomes an adult.

If you have any questions about this article or your individual or family’s financial matters, please feel free to contact me at or 609-689-9700.


DISCLAIMER: This advisory resource is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute business or tax advice and may not be used and relied upon as a substitute for business or tax advice regarding a specific issue or problem. Advice should be obtained from a qualified accountant, tax practitioner or attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where that advice is sought.