Your children are most likely quite accustomed to having you manage their legal and medical affairs as circumstances require. However, once they turn 18, such management becomes nearly impossible unless they legally grant you that right. Without the proper legal documents in place, accessing medical information and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and, in some cases, impossible.
When sending kids off to college, it is important for your kids to consider the legal implications an accident or medical emergency might have on your ability to stay informed and participate in important decision making for them. Medical professionals have a responsibility to follow the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which ensures medical privacy protection for all adults. Once your child turns 18, they are, from a legal perspective, no more attached to you than a stranger, making communication about medical issues tricky if your child is incapacitated and not able to grant permission on their own.
In most states, there are three legal documents which can make all the difference when a medical crisis strikes. When utilized together, they can ensure a parent or trusted adult be kept in the loop about care and treatment when the young adult experiences a medical event while they are away at college, traveling, or living far from home. As with most legal documents, the law varies from state to state, so be sure to seek out the counsel of your Personal Family Lawyer® to determine which forms suit your situation best.
HIPAA – Essentially like a permission slip, this authorization allows your adult child to specify who is allowed access to their personal medical information. Specific information can be specifically withheld, such as drug use, sexual activity, and mental health issues, so that additional privacy can be protected if desired.
Medical power of attorney – Designates an agent to make medical decisions for the young adult. This could be you or another trusted adult. Each state has different laws governing medical power of attorney, thereby requiring different forms. Be sure to check with your Personal Family Lawyer® to be sure you are following the laws of your state, as well as the state in which your child resides.
Durable financial power of attorney – Allows the parent or another trusted adult to take care of personal business in the event the adult child is unable to do so. This form would allow the parent to take care of such important tasks such as signing tax returns, paying bills, and accessing bank accounts for the incapacitated adult child.
The milestones come quickly once children graduate from high school, become an adult, and start making their own decisions. As your family navigates these significant rites of passage, be sure to consult us as your Personal Family Lawyer® to determine the steps necessary to ensure excellent communication and peace of mind when a medical emergency arises. We’re here to help your family establish the legal and medical protections you all need to live the lives you desire.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Photo by Keira Burton: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-white-long-sleeve-shirt-sitting-on-green-grass-field-6147276/