Recently, as I was sitting there minding my business, I received a message from our family doctor callously reminding me that in two months, they were going to turn 18!
Also, they were shutting down my access to their medical information.
After I swallowed the lump in my throat, I realized that a lot changes at 12:00 a.m. on their 18th birthday. Their new rights include voting, entering into contracts, applying for credit without a cosigner, buying personal property and real estate, making a will, and obtaining medical treatment without parental consent. (FYI, the legal age in my state is 18, in a few others, it is 19 or when you graduate high school. You can check here.)
Luckily, I feel like I have an open and honest relationship with my two almost-adults, so I’m not worried what they will do with these new freedoms; it’s more of the complications that come with it as we are still navigating the parent-child relationship and wanting to be there if they need me.
While I already had a proxy in place to address my state’s privacy policies, when they turn 18, everything changes regarding access. A parent no longer has the right to access their child’s medical information once they have turned 18 without their child’s permission.
It also means in a medical emergency, parents may be unable to easily or readily find out what is happening and with almost no authorization to make treatment decisions when adult children are unable to consent the release of information to the parents.
So if your 18-year-old becomes incapacitated, medical professionals do not have to tell you what is going on or allow you to make decisions on their behalf.
Putting legal documents in place when your child turns 18 is not helicopter parenting
I’m a big believer in letting kids fail to develop resiliency. I also think teens need to have input and control on important life choices and learn how to take care of their health and wellness.
But a young adult, or anyone for that matter, who normally makes level-headed decisions, may become temporarily sidelined by an illness or accident and need help making medical or financial decisions.
As responsible adults, many of us have power of attorney forms and health care directives set up with our spouses or other relatives. It is, in fact, a very grown-up thing to do.
Healthcare power of attorney forms and financial POAs give you as the parent the ability and authority to receive the necessary information to make healthcare and/or financial decisions for or with your child.
It does not mean you override your 18-year-old’s decisions.
But without these forms, a state may appoint a guardian or conservator for you if they are not in place. Or, a hospital or doctor may be unable to share medical treatment information with you. Power of attorney forms eliminate these concerns.
What documents should you have in place when your child turns 18
Since an 18-year-old is now an adult and able to seek medical treatment on their own, they are also protected by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects personal medical information from being shared without patient authorization. A parent no longer has the right to access their child’s medical information once they have turned 18 without their child’s permission. In many cases, this permission can be easily given by your child signing a HIPAA waiver release at each healthcare provider’s office.
This can make it easier if you are trying to help your child get the necessary forms for sports, college applications, employment, etc.
You also may want to consider a Young Adult Power of Attorney form.
It takes 15 minutes to create a POA form for your college student through Mama Bear Legal Forms; maybe 10 minutes if you type fast and have the necessary documents handy.
If you go to an attorney, they can create one for you, likely within a few days to a week, but you will pay attorney fees for that convenience. Mama Bear Legal Forms lets you create the same thing yourself, from the comfort of your home or office, in 15 minutes or less (We did it for our twins in 20 minutes end to end.)
Mama Bear offers an all-in-one package of law firm quality, state-specific documents that are easy to create, simple to download, and incredibly affordable. The power of attorney (POA) templates and healthcare POA forms can be customized for your children and state(s) of residence. The Young Adult Power of Attorney Package includes all three documents your college child needs for only $79 – a significantly lower price than the average attorney fee for preparing such documents. (P.S. Use Promo Code PTTCOLLEGE20 and get 20% off!!) And if your child is going to college in another state, a second set for that state is included in the price.
Financial POAs may also be useful for your 18-year-old
If your child needs help dealing with a financial issue with a bank, landlord, student loan officer, insurance company, or credit card institution, you will not be able to converse with any of those agents unless you have a financial POA signed and ready to show.
With a Financial POA, however, you can sign the necessary paperwork for your child, gather information about the situation at hand, communicate with financial agents and companies on your child’s behalf, and manage their accounts.
While we never want our children to fall into credit card debt, or find themselves in financial situations they feel ill-equipped to handle, those situations do occur. If you have a relationship with your newly-minted adult where you are walking side-by-side, putting these forms in place ahead of time allows you to be able to assist your child in tough situations.
Putting a financial POA in place also can help when your teen goes to college. If you want to do so much as check tuition and fee balances, you may not be able to do so without a financial POA form in place or a FERPA release.
Helping our 18-year-olds is not enabling.
Without a power of attorney form and healthcare power of attorney form in place, parents are not authorized to help adult children manage their financial, legal, or healthcare decisions.
You may never need them, but if you do, you will be so thankful you have them in place.
Signing POA forms – where to get your documents notarized
After you create your POA forms, you’ll need to sign them in the presence of a notary. It takes about the same amount of time as it does to create your POA – 15 minutes.
The National Notary Association recommends these common places to locate a notary public to assist in signing your legal documents:
- Businesses, including banks, credit unions, tax or CPA offices, parcel shipping stores, and real estate offices.
- Local AAA offices.
- Government offices, including town hall, city hall, county courthouse, and public library.
- Business offices at colleges and universities (for college students).
- Online searches at sites like 123notary.com and Notarize.com.
Some of these venues require an appointment, so make sure you check ahead of time to verify hours, costs, and what documentation you may need to bring with you. You may also want to ask if you need to bring a witness, or if they have someone there who can be a witness on your behalf.
What is your peace of mind worth?
It only takes a few minutes to create the documents you need for your 18-year-old.
P.S. Don’t forget to use promo code PTTCOLLEGE20 to get 20%!
Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice.
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