As a parent, you may be accustomed to managing your children's legal and medical affairs, as circumstances require. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18, now adults in the eyes of the law, and need urgent medical attention?
The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult and has the legal rights of an adult. This means that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents, accessing medical information and being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult or impossible.
It is crucial to consider the legal implications of an accident or medical emergency on your ability to stay informed and participate in important decision-making for your young adult child. Medical professionals are responsible for following the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which ensures medical privacy protection for all adults. Once your child turns 18, they are (from a legal perspective) no more attached to you than a stranger, making communication about medical issues tricky if your child is incapacitated and not able to grant permission on their own.
In most states, these three legal documents can make all the difference when a medical crisis strikes. When utilized together, they can ensure a parent or trusted adult be kept in the loop about care and treatment when a child over the age of 18 experiences a medical event. As with most legal documents, the law varies from state to state, so be sure to seek out the counsel with us to determine which forms suit your situation best.
Essentially like a permission slip, this authorization allows your adult child to specify who is allowed access to their personal medical information. Certain information can be specifically withheld, such as drug use, sexual activity, and mental health issues so that additional privacy can be protected if desired.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney or healthcare directive designates an agent to make medical decisions for the young adult. This could be you as the parent or another trusted adult. Each state has different laws governing medical power of attorney and requiring different forms. Check with us to be sure you are following the laws of your state and the state where your child resides.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Allows the parent or another trusted adult to take care of personal business if the adult child cannot do so. This form would allow the parent to take care of such important tasks such as signing tax returns, paying bills, and accessing bank accounts for the incapacitated adult child. A durable power of attorney is powerful and gives broad access to sensitive financial and legal decision-making and should only be given to a trusted relative or friend.
Help Your Child Start Adulthood
The milestones come quickly once children turn 18. As your family navigates these significant rites of passage, consult with us to determine the steps necessary to ensure excellent communication and peace of mind when a medical emergency arises. We’re here to help your family establish the legal and medical protections needed to live your desired lives.
These documents aren’t limited to adult children. All adults should—at minimum—have these documents in place. Contact us today to schedule a time for your family and get the right documents in place for you and your kids.
This article is a service of Desmond Law, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.