As parents, you dedicate your life to raising your children to become happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adults to the extent that it is possible. This might mean traveling to the ends of the earth for gymnastics meets every weekend for years; it might mean attending regular IEP meetings and checking in with your child’s teachers to track progress; it might mean ponying up all that hard-earned money for Driver’s Ed. But at what point do our kids actually become those well-adjusted adults that we’re helping to mold them into?
Legally speaking, it might be earlier than you think. Once your child reaches the age of 18, he or she is now an adult in the eyes of the law. This means that as their parents, you no longer have the ability to act on their behalf as a legal guardian. Your child is free to sign contracts, open bank accounts, take out loans, and buy cigarettes - and there’s nothing you can do about it!
But what happens if your adult child needs you? What if they’re hit by a car during their freshman year of college? How will you be able to get medical information about them from hospital employees whose hands are tied by HIPAA privacy laws? How will you be able to make sure that they’re not evicted from their off-campus apartment, or that their tuition bills are being paid without access to their bank accounts?
For young adults who have just turned 18, there are three critical documents that they need to ensure that there are people who can make legal, financial, and health care decisions for them. These documents are a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy, and a HIPAA Waiver. Without these documents, a young adult’s parents are unable to obtain medical information about them, communicate with doctors, access financial accounts, or respond to legal issues. It is critical that your adult child sign these three documents to ensure that you have the ability to intervene in an emergency situation, especially if your child is leaving home for the first time in their lives.
If you have a child who has recently turned 18, please contact us today to ensure that they have appointed you as their agents in case of an emergency. No matter how well-adjusted they are, accidents happen. Don’t let them leave home without a plan of their own.