Adult Children and Legal Documents

Here’s a question that most parents don’t often consider: With adult children heading off to college and/or into the workplace, what legal documents do I need?

 Upon reaching his or her 18th birthday, your child is legally an adult in Arizona and in most states. This means that you no longer have the right to make certain decisions that you always have made before and obtain information on your child’s condition. Yes, this means that as soon as your child turns 18, you no longer have dominion over them.

 So let’s say – heaven forbid – your 19 year old goes off to college or work and is seriously injured? You call the hospital’s emergency room and you are told: “Sorry, due to HIPAA, we are not authorized to provide you with any information.” Similarly, your child in another part of the country, is unconscious in the hospital following an accident, and the doctor assigned to her/his recovery cannot discuss their care or course of treatments with you. Lastly, if your child is incapacitated for a period and you are not allowed to access their school or financial records.

 For these reasons, as an estate planning attorney I strongly advise you to get these three simple documents before your child goes off to college and/or the workplace.

 1. HIPPA Authorization Form

 HIPPA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a federal law that safeguard who can access a patient’s private health data. Unfortunately, this means that a doctor or nurse may be prohibited from revealing health care information of your adult child. So this is why a HIPPA Authorization form, signed by your adult child and authorizing you as an authorized party, can give the ability to receive information from healthcare providers about your son’s or daughter’s health care status.

 2. Medical Power of Attorney

 A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document naming you to make medical decisions for your child if he or she becomes medically incapacitated. You can make decisions for your loved one when they cannot. It also enables you to talk to your child’s doctor when your child cannot.

 3. General Durable Power of Attorney

 You would also be wise to have a General Durable Power of Attorney in place if your adult child was ever incapacitated for any length of time. This document would allow you to manage bank accounts, pay bills, sign tax returns, apply for government benefits and assist your child in managing her or his financial affairs without having to become appointed as their conservator by the Court.

 For basically $100 each, these critical documents are an essential monitor and to care for your child even after they are adults.