Do you have a child who is leaving home for the first time for college, travel or employment? If so, before they go, talk with your child about signing a HIPAA release, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney. A qualified estate planning attorney can talk with the young adult and arrange for the preparation and signing of these documents quickly and efficiently.
If your child is 18, he or she is legally considered an adult – even if you don’t view them that way! That means you, the parent, no longer have the right to receive any of your child’s medical information or make any legal decisions for the young adult unless they legally authorize you to do so.
A medical release form, commonly referred to by the statutory abbreviation “HIPAA,” will provide the necessary legal authorization to access all of your adult child’s medical information. This will allow you to continue to attend to the more every day needs of your child like renewing their standard prescriptions, coordinating medical appointments, etc. In addition, if your child had serious medical issues, you have immediate access to all of their health information.
To complete the ability to provide for your child’s medical needs, if your child names you as his or her Health Care Agent in a properly executed Health Care Proxy, you can make medical decisions for your child if your child is unable to make them for himself or herself. Think about an accident, or a mental health problem, where your child is not able to make his or her own decisions. Your child will need someone with immediate authority to step in and make medical decisions on his or her behalf. Without a health care agent, Court intervention is required to name someone to do so.
And let’s not forget the financial part of the equation. Your young adult child should execute a Power of Attorney designating someone, an “agent,” to make financial decisions for him or her in case the child is unable to make the decision because of mental incapacity or physical unavailability. Is your child going into the Peace Corp and planning on living in a remote area of the world for a time? If so, the designated agent can act on behalf of the adult child to take care of financial needs such as banking, taxes, and other financial issues that might arise such as identity theft!
There is an added bonus in encouraging your adult child to take care of these important legal matters before they leave the nest – it gets them thinking about the planning process. A good step for their future!
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