Your Rights as the Parent of a Young Adult – What You Need to Know When a Medical Crisis Hits

As a parent, you are most likely quite accustomed to managing the legal and medical affairs of your children. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care usually can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18 and need of urgent medical attention far from home?

The fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult, and has the legal rights of an adult. What this means is you lose your right to make medical and financial decisions for your child, unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights. Without the proper legal documents in place, accessing medical information, and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible.

When sending kids off to college, it is important to consider the legal implications a medical emergency might have on your ability to stay informed and participate in important medical decision. Medical professionals have a responsibility to follow 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.

In most states, three legal documents exist which can make all the difference when a medical crisis strikes, and your young adult child is far from home. 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 while they are away at college, traveling, or living far from home. As with most legal documents, the law varies from state to state, so be sure to seek out the counsel of your Tom, your Personal Family Lawyer®.

HIPAA – This authorization allows your adult child to specify who is allowed access to their medical information. Specific information can be withheld, such as drug use, sexual activity, and mental health issues, if desired.

Medical power of attorney – Designates an agent to make medical decisions. This could be you, as the parent or another trusted adult. Each state has different forms, so be sure to check with your Tom, your Personal Family Lawyer® to ensure you have the form for the state in which your child resides.

Durable financial power of attorney – Allows the parent or another trusted adult to take care of personal business in the event the adult child is unable to do so. This form would allow the parent to take care of such important tasks as signing tax returns, paying bills, and accessing bank accounts for the incapacitated adult child. A durable power of attorney gives broad access to sensitive financial information and legal decision making; it should only be given to a trusted relative or friend.

If you’d like your adult child to have these three documents, Culpepper Law can draft them. In fact, this month, when you schedule and come in for a Family Wealth Planning Session, we will create no-charge legal documents for your adult child (18-30), as our gift to you. Call our office and mention the “June graduation special” to get scheduled.

This article is a service of Tom Culpepper, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t 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. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session (call Amy at 937-589-4144) and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge as well.

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