In the United States, as soon as a minor turns 18, they’re typically considered a legal adult.
As a result, parents no longer have any authority to make decisions for their child, including financial and health care decisions.
Yahoo’s recent article, “Don’t Let Your Child Leave for College Without Signing Three Critical Documents,” asks what if your adult child becomes sick or is in an accident and ends up hospitalized?
Because of privacy laws, known as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you wouldn’t have any right to get any information from the hospital regarding your child’s condition. Yes, we know you’re her mother. However, that’s the law!
You also wouldn’t be able to access their medical records or intercede on your child’s behalf regarding medical treatment and care.
If your child’s unable to communicate with doctors, you might also have to ask a judge to appoint you as your child’s guardian before being able to be told of their condition and make any healthcare decisions for them.
While this is hard when your child is still living at home, it’s a massive headache if your child is attending college away from home.
However, there’s a relatively easy fix to address this issue:
Ask an experienced estate planning attorney about drafting three legal documents for your child to sign:
- A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for Health Care. This document designates the parent as your child’s patient advocate.
- A HIPAA Authorization gives you access to your child’s medical records and lets you discuss their health condition with doctors. (This may be part of the Health Care document.)
- A DPOA for Financial Matters designates the parent as your child’s agent so that you can manage your child’s financial affairs, including banking and bill paying, in case your child becomes sick or injured or cannot act for any reason.
Reference: Yahoo (Aug. 2, 2022) “Don’t Let Your Child Leave for College Without Signing Three Critical Documents”