Kids 18 and Older? Do It Now: Vital Legal Documents Your College-Aged Child Needs
I get it – it runs counter-intuitive in so many ways: why on earth does my child need a Medical Power of Attorney? He/she has me – I’m the parent! Even though they still may be under our care in many ways, the law says that they are now fully autonomous; the only rights we have to their medical records, medical decisions, financial accounts or student records, are the ones they give us…in writing.
But if I’m paying the bills, doctors and schools have to talk to me then, right? Sure, they will be happy to accept your money, but they still won’t tell you anything that violates privacy laws. (see the FERPA Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and HIPAA Health Information Privacy Authorization Act).
Well, surely there are exceptions for emergencies, right? There may be, but even in an emergency you are not guaranteed access to doctors or schools, and you will not have access to bank accounts. It is more likely your child will need assistance in a non-emergency situation.
No matter how dependent your son or daughter remains financially and emotionally for the next few years, the law regards him or her as having complete autonomy. Your child is now an adult and needs the same protective documents that you do. We all need people we trust to speak or act on our behalf if ever we cannot.
Don’t delay. Explain to your child why a Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA Release, and Durable Power of Attorney are vital legal documents that will ensure that someone they love and trust will be allowed to step in to manage their affairs and to be the voice advocating for them when he/she needs it most.
- Medical: having access to records and the ability to make medical decisions when your adult-child is unconscious during any illness, surgery, accident/injury, etc.
- Student Records: having the ability to notifying teachers when your child is hospitalized, etc. *Research whether your adult-child’s educational institution has their own forms for access to student records
- Study Abroad: having the ability to manage financial affairs or any legal issues that come up while your adult child is abroad
- Financial: access and authority to manage bills and bank accounts during an adult child’s long term hospital stay or semester abroad, etc.
Have your child visit with a qualified attorney to discuss options. Consider a Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA Release and Durable Power of Attorney for your college-aged child. A good plan will maintain your child’s autonomy and ensure that his or her interests will be protected and well represented by a trusted individual if the need ever arises.
If your adult child has any assets, his/her attorney can discuss whether a Last Will and Testament is necessary, or whether options such as payable on death accounts or beneficiary designations can forego the need of having a will for the time being.
If you’d like to learn more, schedule a visit at our office to discuss the legal documents you’ll need and the protection each will provide.