We are fairly certain the last thing your 18-year-old kid is thinking about is an estate plan.
And you are probably not thinking about one for them either, but you should be. Here’s why: once your child turns 18, you are no longer entitled to know about their medical records or make decisions about their medical treatment.
Can you imagine your child needing medical treatment in some college town and you are not able to help in any way without a court saying you can? It can, and does, happen.
Health Care Directives and HIPAA Waivers
Your adult child should complete a Health Care Directive as well as a HIPAA Waiver (HIPAA refers to the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, the law that makes health records private for those over the age of 18). Your child can designate you, or another trusted friend or family member, as their agent, allowing the agent to have access to medical records and to make health care decisions for them in case they cannot do so themselves.
Durable Power of Attorney
While you’re at it, your child should also complete a Durable Power of Attorney as well. The DPA will give the named agent the right to oversee the child’s finances in case of incapacitation. The DPA could also be effective immediately which could be beneficial if your child is studying out of the country and would like you to be able to assist them with finances.
Hopefully you will never need to use these three documents, but having these necessary protections in place will give you both you and your child peace of mind. We have put these documents in place for many of our clients’ children, whether they are leaving for college out of state or doing volunteer work out of the country.