Once a child reaches the age of 18 the state considers your child to be an adult with the legal right to govern his or her own life, which means parents can no longer have access to medical records, make decisions regarding treatment or access any financial information.
Most don’t even realize the problems with no access until an adverse event occurs. It is important to plan for the unexpected and for your child to set up an estate plan that at least includes the following crucial components:
- Health Care Proxy with HIPAA Release
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, once your child turns 18, you can no longer even get medical updates in the event your child is unable to communicate his or her wishes. Should your child suffer a medical crisis resulting in the child’s inability to communicate, doctors and other medical professionals may refuse to speak with you or allow you to make medical decisions for your child. You may have no choice but to hire an attorney and go through the court system to become your legal guardian. At this time of crisis, your primary concern is to ensure your child is taken care of and you do not need the additional burden of court proceedings and associated legal costs. A health care proxy with a HIPAA release enables your child to designate you or another trusted person to make medical decisions in the event he/she no longer can.
- Durable Power of Attorney
If your child becomes incapacitated without a durable power of attorney, you cannot access the child’s bank accounts, credit cards, or any other financial information to make sure bills are being paid or otherwise care for his or her affairs. Again, you may be forced to seek the court’s appointment as conservator of your child to handle financial affairs.
Absent a crisis, a power of attorney can also be helpful in issues that may arise when your child is away at college or traveling. For example, if your child is traveling and an issue comes up where he/she cannot access his accounts, a durable power of attorney would give you or another trusted person the authority to manage the issue.
This article is written by an attorney at Wyatt & Mirabella, PC. Always consult an attorney before making any legal decisions. To make an appointment today for a free consultation, please click here to contact us.