Once a new young adult becomes 18, he or she now has the legal right to self-determination and privacy, whether they want it or are ready for it. Most parents of young adults we encounter do not realize that once their child celebrates that magical 18th birthday, parents have no legal right to:
- view grades or other education-related information (regardless of who pays the tuition)
- be informed of health status by a physician, hospital or campus clinic
- access financial information
- make any legal or medical decisions on their behalf
Under normal circumstances, this may not be a problem. As parents, we encourage our kids to be self-reliant and financially responsible. Going to college and being away from home is their first opportunity to experience life as an adult. But what if there is an emergency? Can you access information about your child's condition if your child is ill or injured at school? Will you be able to help them handle their financial affairs if they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions on their own?
Privacy laws prohibit financial institutions and medical providers from disclosing private information concerning your child without his or her authorization. The best way to prevent obstacles in obtaining information about your adult child is to execute certain legal documents.
Below is the list of the legal documents you should have in place once your child turns 18:
Designation of Health Care Surrogate Document
The Designation of Health Care Surrogate document allows your new young adult to choose the representatives who will make vital health care decisions for them when they are unable to make those decisions for themselves.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Waiver
HIPAA requires doctors and other health care providers to get written authorization from a patient before they can share health information about the patient with a "third party." By signing a HIPPA release your child can authorize doctors to share diagnoses and treatment options with you.
A Living Will specifies an individual's wishes regarding all life sustaining devices and near-death decisions. The Living Will should be revised continuously to remain current with new and evolving laws.
Durable Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney will allow your child to authorize you to manage his financial affairs either immediately or in the future should he become mentally or physically unable to do so. This allows you to handle tasks such as paying bills, applying for social security or government benefits and opening and closing accounts if necessary.
Again, most young adults we meet sign the Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a HIPAA waiver form designating their parents to access information or make decisions if the young adult lacks the capacity to do so. But, you should also be aware, there is no requirement for the young adult to sign these documents.
So, before you stock the mini-fridge, make sure you schedule the time to learn how the law affects you and your "new young adult" child. Remember, if your child is 18 and you do not have proper planning documents in place, you have no legal authority to get educational, medical or financial information about your adult child.
Don't wait until it's too late. Plan It Now.™
Click the link below to obtain the documents.
As a service to the community, Morris Law Group is making these critical documents available, free of charge.
** Disclaimer Required by IRS Circular 230** Unless otherwise expressly approved in advance by the undersigned, any discussion of federal tax matters herein is not intended and cannot be used 1) to avoid penalties under the Federal tax laws, or 2) to promote, market or recommend to another party any transaction or tax-related matter addressed.