As a parent, your son or daughter’s final year of high school is a bittersweet experience. You are excited for them as they approach graduation and prepare for what is to come, but the idea of them leaving the nest is almost unimaginable. There is an instinct to shield them from misfortune, even though they will soon be (or may already be) legally an adult. As your child prepares for college, trade school, enlistment in the armed forces, or wherever else their path may take them, it is important to keep in mind how your relationship with them has legally changed.

Once your child turns 18 years old, you cannot make medical or financial decisions on their behalf, nor are you even allowed to access their medical or financial information. You cannot call the college they are attending to inquire about their financial aid or the student housing they currently reside in, without advance written permission from your child. If your child gets a car loan or lease, you cannot get information about the payment status of the account. Some medical institutions will not allow you to make an appointment on your child’s behalf. If your child experiences a medical issue and is being treated medical personnel are prohibited by law from discussing your child’s status with you. They cannot even notify you that your child is being treated, even if you know they are being treated there.

For children over 18 years of age, we always recommend that child execute a financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and HIPAA release and list their parents as their agents in these documents. The financial power of attorney allows a parent to act on their adult child’s behalf regarding financial and property matters and allows the parent to access their adult child’s financial records. The medical power of attorney allows the parent to make medical decisions on their child’s behalf in the event the child is unable to make them. A HIPAA release allows the parent to access their adult child’s HIPAA-protected medical information and inquire about their current medical status.

Cooper & Riesterer is here to help you and your adult child navigate this time of change. Call Eric Maul, eric@crlaw.biz or any of the attorneys at Cooper & Riesterer, PLC.

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