Congratulations! You’ve reached a huge emotional and legal milestone in the world of parenting! The baby you have been loving, teaching, raising and disciplining is now an adult ready to take on the world by themselves… ready or not.
Just because your child is turning 18 and may be going off to college, they are not the only people in the family that need to continue their education. As your child turns 18, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself on your legal rights concerning an adult child.
We all know the 18th birthday brings a whole new set of responsibilities including, but not limited to: voting, fighting for our nation, (must be 21 to gamble in the US, except for lottery tickets when 18), jury duty, getting married, buying a house and getting arrested.
But did you know that when the clock strikes 12, you are no longer his/her legal representative in regards to health care decisions unless it is legally documented? Although you can technically keep them on your health plan until they’re 26, they are considered legal adults when they turn 18.
Or did you know you no longer have access to financial information including credit card statements, bank accounts or college tuition, even if you’re the primary payer without legal documentation? While your newfound adult child is able to buy a car, renting one is still out of the question for another seven years.
The most important documents needed when your child turns 18 include a medical Power of Attorney, Advance Directive/Living Will, HIPAA Authorization and a financial Power of Attorney.
The medical Power of Attorney, Advance Directive/Living Will and HIPAA Authorization work hand in hand to insure you have the proper legal authority to speak freely with your child’s doctors and medical care providers, and allows you to make necessary medical decisions. Without these documents, you may have to undergo a lengthy legal process to be named as guardian for your adult child before you can take medical action.
By having your child name you within a financial Power of Attorney, you will have the ability to manage your child’s financial affairs. These could include signing checks to pay bills, buying/selling a car, accessing tuition and grade information, etc.
The only way for you to help your child manage their school records, bank accounts and health information is if your child gives you legal permission.