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Why Does an 18 Year Old Need Estate Planning Documents?

MP900442417It’s exciting when your child turns 18, but part of their becoming an adult means that parents have no right to getting information about their health, or making critical health care decisions on their behalf.

That awkward child who you may think will never grow up, becomes a legal adult once they celebrate their 18th birthday. Parents no longer have a right to be involved with their health care or make any decisions on their behalf, than they would for a stranger.

The Tewksbury Town Crier’s recent article, “Is your child turning 18? Here’s what you need to know,” explains that people often have an estate planning attorney draft the appropriate documents, so they will be legal and binding. Let’s look at a list of documents to consider and discuss with your young adult:

HIPAA Authorization: if your 18-year-old has a job in another state or will be attending college and needs medical records or assistance making appointments, ask her to go to the doctor’s and dentist’s office and sign forms that designate agents to act on her behalf. Due to HIPAA laws, information can’t be released without the adult child’s permission.

Healthcare Proxy: Have your 18-year old complete this document, make a copy, put a copy on each parent or guardian’s phone and put a copy on your child’s phone. This is for an emergency, like when the child can’t speak for herself. However, don’t wait for an emergency. If your child is at college, the school will only contact you as the emergency contact, but the proxy is between you and the hospital and includes mental health issues. A healthcare proxy lets you to participate in life and death decisions, should your child not be able to advocate for herself.

Durable Power of Attorney: A general durable power of attorney or financial power of attorney must also be signed by the 18-year old, designating his parents, guardians, or others as agents authorized to act on his behalf. This allows the agent access to financial information, so that he can participate in the financial issues with a university or business in the event that the child cannot.

FERPA: This release allows colleges, universities and other academic institutions the ability to share information, like grades and transcripts, to parents or agents. It doesn’t matter who is paying for college. Without it, the college won’t share any information about your child.

Lastly, now that your child is of legal age, encourage them to register to vote.

Reference: Tewksbury Town Crier (December 8, 2019) “Is your child turning 18? Here’s what you need to know”