Where did the time go and how in the world did that teen of yours become an adult? After years of worrying whom you should name as guardian of your baby, they all of a sudden become an adult and no longer need that consideration. However, there are now new things to think and worry about (naturally).
Believe it or not, when your child turns 18, they are legally an adult in the eyes of the law. As their parent, you no longer have ANY legal authority over their medical, financial or education information. But, rest assured, we can help with this challenge. There are a number of documents that your child can sign to allow you to assist them in the grown and flown stage of life.
Health Care Power of Attorney & HIPAA Release
Now that they are an “adult,” in order to be able to help with their health care decisions and have access to their medical records, your child needs to sign a Health Care Power of Attorney and a HIPAA Release. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects health information. Without a HIPAA release, you can’t access your child’s records. In fact, medical facilities can even withhold information as to why your child is at the facility.
The authorization does not have to be a blanket release but can be tailored to whatever information your child feels comfortable giving you access to. Check to see whether your child’s health center has a preferred form.
Keep in mind, a HIPAA release does not allow you to make medical decisions for someone else. It simply provides access to information. In order to make medical decisions for your child, your child will need to sign a health care power of attorney in which he or she names you as a decision maker.
This document only becomes effective if and when your child is unable to make decisions for themselves. If you don’t have this document in place, and you eventually need to make decisions on behalf of your adult child, you may need to involve the court system. This process is called a conservatorship or guardianship depending upon the state you live in. But remember, all of these issues can be avoided by having the proper documents in place before an issue arrives.
Financial Power of Attorney
As we discussed in a previous newsletter, there are various types of financial powers of attorney to allow a person, such as your 18 year old, to CHOOSE who he or she wants to handle his or her financial affairs if he or she is unable to do so. A financial power of attorney can be written broadly to handle all sorts of financial decisions such as taxes, real estate, investments, etc., or narrowly to only include writing checks, for example.
A power of attorney is a very helpful document if you child is going abroad for a semester to study. With this in hand, you could do things such as renew car registration or file their tax returns. Again, without this in place, if you need to do something and they do not have the capacity to grant the power, back to court you’d go. It is much easier to get the documents in place now and never need them rather than the expensive and time-consuming alternative of a court process.
One final important document relates to your child’s educational records. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students over 18 must provide written consent before their education records are provided to their parents. Without this, you would not have access to grade reports or to see if your child is in danger of losing an academic scholarship.
This is a form that you generally don’t need an attorney to help you with as schools usually have a form that they use. Simply contact your child’s school and request a copy of the form, and have your child execute it.
We’re here to help!
If you would like help with any of these forms, or if you have any questions, we would love to help.
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