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  • Writer's pictureBrian Klein

5 Crucial Documents Every 18 Year Old Should Have


Blog post header graphic with a picture of college aged students talking with the words The Blue Ink Notary Blog: 5 Crucial documents every 18 year old should have.

Welcome to Blue Ink Notary's comprehensive guide to the essential documents every young adult should consider having as they embark on their journey into adulthood. Turning 18 is a significant milestone for your child - they officially become an adult in the eyes of the law and their lives become more alive with new opportunities and responsibilities. It's crucial to ensure they have the necessary paperwork in place to navigate the complexities of adulthood with confidence, should the needs arise.


  1. State Identification (ID) Card or Driver's License: Obtaining a state ID card or driver's license is often the first step towards independence for many young adults. Beyond just proving your age, these documents serve as primary forms of identification for a variety of purposes. From opening bank accounts to applying for jobs or renting an apartment, having a valid ID is essential in today's society.


In Pennsylvania, residents can obtain a state ID card through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). The process typically requires presenting your child's birth certificate, Social Security card, and proof of residency. Once your child has their ID card or driver's license, be sure they keep it in a safe place and carry it with them whenever necessary.


Picture of a girl in a car holding out her drivers license above another picture of social security cards.

2. Social Security Card: Social security cards are usually issued shortly after the birth of your child. Social Security numbers are more than just a string of digits; it's a key component of everyone's' financial identity. A Social Security card is crucial for various purposes: including employment, applying for government benefits, and filing taxes. Safeguarding this document is paramount to protecting yourself from identity theft and ensuring you child receives the benefits they are entitled to in the future.


If your child has not already received a Social Security card, you can apply for one through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Be prepared to provide documentation such as your child's birth certificate and proof of identity when applying. Once you have their Social Security card in hand, store it in a secure location along with other important documents.


3. Healthcare Power of Attorney or Proxy: As your child transitions into adulthood, it's essential to plan for unforeseen circumstances, including medical emergencies or incapacitation. A healthcare power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your child's behalf if they are unable to do so. This document ensures that your child's wishes are respected and followed, even when they're unable to communicate them directly.

When choosing a healthcare proxy, consider someone who knows your values and preferences regarding medical treatment. Discuss your wishes with them openly and ensure they understand the responsibilities involved. You can create a healthcare proxy through an attorney or by using online legal services that specialize in such documents.


4. Advance Health Directive or Living Will: In addition to a healthcare proxy, an advance directive or living will is another critical document for healthcare planning. This document allows your child to specify their preferences for medical treatment in the event of incapacity. They can outline your child's wishes regarding life-sustaining measures, organ donation, and other end-of-life decisions.

Creating an advance directive also involves thoughtful consideration of your values, beliefs, and medical preferences. Be sure to discuss your child's wishes with their healthcare proxy and loved ones to ensure everyone is on the same page. While it's not an easy topic to address, having an advance directive in place can provide peace of mind for you and your family during difficult times.


Picture of a power of attorney document with a pen and a pair of glasses.

5. Financial Power of Attorney: Managing finances is a significant aspect of adult life, and having a financial power of attorney in place can provide invaluable support in times of need. This document allows your child to designate someone they trust to manage their financial affairs if they are unable to do so themself. Whether due to illness, travel, or other circumstances, having a trusted individual to handle financial matters on their behalf can offer peace of mind.

When selecting a financial power of attorney, consider someone who is responsible, trustworthy, and knowledgeable about financial matters. Be sure to discuss expectations and preferences with them in advance. Additionally, consider consulting with a legal professional to ensure the financial power of attorney is drafted correctly and meets your child's specific needs.


Bonus Tip # 1 - HIPAA & FERPA Authorizations: HIPAA is the privacy law that prohibits health care providers from disclosing your child's medical condition or diagnoses without the proper authorization. A HIPAA authorization document, which your child can limit as much or as little as they are comfortable with, can help provide you with access to this information in the event of an emergency.


In order to have your child's educational records released to you, FERPA requires written consent from students aged 18 or older. A FERPA authorization document will provide access to your child's education records, school disciplinary actions and college health clinic records.


Bonus Tip # 2 - Last Will and Testament: While not necessarily essential at age 18, creating a last will and testament is a vital component of estate planning. This document allows you to specify how you want your assets to be distributed after your passing. Even if you don't have significant assets now, having a will ensures that your child's wishes are known and can help prevent disputes among loved ones.


When drafting a will, consider consulting with an estate planning attorney to ensure it complies with state laws and accurately reflects your child's intentions. Be sure to educate your child to update the will regularly to account for any changes in life circumstances, such as marriage, children, or acquisitions of property.



Turning 18 marks the beginning of a new chapter in life filled with opportunities and responsibilities. Whether your child is approaching the age of 18 or has already passed that milestone, take some time to talk with them and consider putting the above mentioned documents in place to ensure they (and you) are prepared in the event of an emergency. By ensuring you have these five essential documents in place, you'll be better prepared to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of adulthood.


Where ever you're from, Blue Ink Notary is here to assist you with all your notarization needs. While I am not an attorney and cannot create legal documents for you, I have a wide variety of resources from an attorney referral to companies like Mama Bear Legal Forms to help you have your documents prepared. Remember to stay informed, stay prepared, and embrace the journey ahead with confidence!


 

Blue Ink Notary, based in Greater Reading and serving Berks County as well as Lancaster, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, has been helping numerous Pennsylvania residents and businesses get their documents notarized since 2019. I am generally available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm but am also available for emergency early morning, evening & weekend appointments to help you with your documents, so contact me any time with questions. 


To discuss your notary needs:

📲 Call or text 484-509-1405 

🖥️ Visit online at blueinknotarypa.com and message us in our chat box in the lower right corner of your screen or visit the Contact Us page.

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