A recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests that parents often overlook certain legal documents they may need when their children turn 18. Just because you are still writing the checks, does not mean that you are still entitled to receive information about, or make decisions for, your now adult child.
To stay informed, and help your child, you may want to consider the preparation of documents concerning their health-care, finance, and education. Privacy laws will severely limit your access to your child’s health-care information, even in the case of an emergency. A health-care power of attorney will allow you to make medical decisions for your child if they become unable to do so on their own. A HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization will allow doctors to talk to you about your child’s medical condition. If your child wishes, limits can be set on what kind of information you may receive.
Having a financial power of attorney prepared will enable you to act on your child’s behalf in financial matters. This could be especially important if bank accounts or other assets are titled in your child’s name. Like the HIPAA, this can be a blanket authorization or one with limits.
While most colleges now inform parents that their child’s educational records will not be shared without the child’s written consent, this is easy to overlook. These records include grades, transcripts, disciplinary records and financial aid information.
If you have a child in college, or one soon to be, you may want to prepare for possible emergencies in advance.