When your child turns the age of eighteen, he or she is now entitled to certain privacy considerations and you will no longer have the same level of access to financial and medical information that you once had. At a minimum, you should discuss with your child that they should have two important Power of Attorney documents in place and a HIPAA authorization form as soon as they turn eighteen.
A Power of Attorney can easily be characterized as a written authorization that you sign to allow someone else to act on your behalf in your private affairs. The two main categories of these types of documents are Financial Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney.
The Financial Power of Attorney allows the person or persons that you select to act on your behalf with regards to any financial transactions. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of allowing someone else to have control over their finances. But remember, this document does not allow that person to act in bad faith and they must act in your best interests. For your child, it may be as simple as allowing you (the parent) to be able to assist in banking issues or sending a request to be excused from jury duty that they receive while they are attending college out-of-state. As a more serious example, if your child has this document in place and they become incapacitated through an illness or accident, it will allow you to act seamlessly in managing their affairs and avoid the court guardianship process of petitioning the court for the authority to act on behalf of your adult child.
The Healthcare Power of Attorney works in very much the same way. You chose who you want to make healthcare decisions if you are not able to make them on your own. In creating a Healthcare Power of Attorney, your child will be able to know with certainty that there is a person they trust in place to make healthcare decisions for them if they cannot make them for themselves.
The last important document for your child to have is a HIPAA release. By having your child sign a HIPAA release form, you will have the peace of mind that you can gain access to any critical health information should your child be hospitalized or under medical care. For example, what if your child attends college out-of-state and there is an accident. Without a HIPAA authorization, a medical practitioner would not speak to you over the phone if you have to travel to be with them. Having the HIPAA authorization will allow you to send that to the medical practitioner and get information immediately.
Both Power of Attorney documents and the HIPAA release form are integral aspects of an estate plan, so you can be confident that all of your affairs are handled by the person or persons you trust with your best interest in mind. By discussing with your child why these documents are so important, it allows you as the parent to continue having access to the information you received prior to them turning age eighteen. More importantly, it allows you to act quickly should there be an emergency.