Families are gathering this week to celebrate as the next generation of leaders graduate from high school and college. As these young people march forward into the next stage of their lives, they should do so with the protection of three essential legal documents reports Jennifer Luzzatto her article “Three Legal Documents You Need When Your Child Turns 18” in Forbes.
“Once your child turns 18, you no longer have the legal right to inquire about their medical, educational or financial status.” Luzzatto states. For example, a 18-year-old could be injured playing sports or in a car accident. Without the teenager’s written permission, the medical team may not be able to communicate vital information to the parents.
Luzatto describes three documents that are essential for anyone over the age of 18: a Healthcare Proxy, a HIPAA Release, and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. These documents are even more vital for blended or non-traditional families.
- Healthcare Proxy (also called a Power of Attorney for Healthcare) – This document appoints an Agent to communicate with Medical Professionals if the individual is unable to communicate or understand medical decisions. The child would choose a primary Agent and alternate Agents in case the primary was not available.
- General HIPAA Release – Under Federal HIPAA rules, once a child turns 18, no one else can access their health records without their written consent. All medical offices will have their own version of a HIPAA Release on file, but this form may not have been signed if your child requires emergency medical treatment. A General HIPAA Release is a document that can cover any healthcare provided in any setting. Luzzatto notes that “You need both a HIPAA release and a Healthcare Proxy because the HIPAA release simply allows you to get information about your child’s medical status and records. A healthcare proxy enables you to make decisions on behalf of your graduate if they are unable to do so themselves.
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney – If yourgraduate is going away for school or to start a new job, there may be times when they need to pay a bill or complete a financial transation, but they are not available to do so. With a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, the child appoints an Agent to act on their behalf for legal and financial matters.
The best way to get started with these documents is to contact an experienced Estate Planning Attorney. This way you can ensure that you have sent your graduate off into the world prepared.