Congratulations to you as a parent for successfully navigating the teen years and crossing the high school finish line!
During my years in practice, I've found that many parents and caregivers are unaware that once their child turns 18, certain legal documents must be in place if they want to access the child's academic records or need to make medical decisions on behalf of the child.
As an estate planning attorney and a parent of young adults, I have experienced personally the need to have proper planning to assist you and your adult children in successfully navigating their newfound legal status. I have outlined below several documents and tasks that parents and caregivers should discuss with their adult children before they head off to college or into the workforce.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that allows your adult child to designate a trusted person who has the authority to act on their behalf in specified or all legal or financial matters. Without a power of attorney, your child's financial and legal affairs could be at risk if they become incapacitated, leaving parents or other guardians unable to make decisions on their behalf.
Healthcare Advance Directives
A healthcare advance directive allows your adult child to express their medical wishes if they cannot do so. This document ensures that their medical care aligns with their beliefs and preferences.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney allows your child to designate a trusted person the authority to act and make medical decisions on their behalf in case of emergency and in the event they are unable to do so. A medical power of attorney eliminates the need for the healthcare provider to find the "next of kin" in an emergency.
HIPAA Health Records Form
A HIPAA health records form authorizes healthcare providers to share medical information with specific individuals, such as parents or grandparents. This can be crucial in an emergency situation, where quick access to medical information can make a difference in the outcome. It may be worthwhile to meet with an attorney prior to submitting this form to ensure everything is accurate.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a law that safeguards students' educational records. When a child turns 18, they gain control over their records. Parents then need FERPA authorization to access their child's educational information. It's also important to note that even medical records at college health clinics are considered academic and inaccessible by a HIPAA form alone.
If your child has assets and no descendants, they may need a will to allow someone to manage their assets if they die prematurely.
Check your medical, auto and homeowner's policies to see whether your child's coverage is affected by their turning 18 and/or leaving home for college. Make sure that your dependent adult child's coverage is extended even though the Affordable Care Act enables them to remain on their parent's health insurance policy until age 26. Confirm that the coverage extends to them for all of these policies if they are attending college out of state and find out how that coverage works. Make sure your child has renter's insurance (even if they live in a dormitory!) to protect their property from theft and other hazards. If your child plans to study or travel internationally, you should check on whether additional insurance is needed and whether their current coverages extend to international travel.
Banking and Credit Accounts
If you plan to transfer money seamlessly to your child's bank account or allow them access to your credit accounts, you should be sure to open an account that allow for internal or external transfers, depending on whether your child will bank at your regular bank or open an account in a local institution closer to school. For external transfers, set that up ahead of time so you are not waiting for approval in time of emergency. For some, the best practice is to open a basic checking account in both the parent's and child's name. Be sure to fill out the joint right of survivorship or pay on death designations.
With credit accounts, add your child as an authorized user and have their own card issued.
Be sure to read your child's lease carefully and retain a copy, especially if you are a co-signer or guarantor and be sure to limit your liability to rent payments only. Video the condition and cleanliness of the apartment or house before moving in, as landlords are generally doing so after the apartment is vacated.
Since your child is now an adult, you can make an appointment to meet with your child and an estate planning attorney at Rogers Law to advise you and your adult child on proper legal documents they need to protect themselves and you. Start your young adult out right by showing them the benefits of proper planning. Request a consultation today by calling or pasting the following url into your browser. https://calendly.com/megan-rogerslaw/60-minute-meeting