Two Documents You Need When Your Child Turns 18

Two Documents You Need When Your Child Turns 18

This weekend Lisa and I joined countless other parents around the country in taking a child off to college. One thing we have that many of those families won't (but should) is a signed durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.

In most states, parents don't have the authority to make health-care decisions or manage money for their kids once they turn 18--even if they are paying the tuition, still have those kids on their health-insurance plans and claim them as dependents on their tax returns. That means if a young adult is in an accident and becomes disabled, even temporarily, a parent might need court approval to act on his or her behalf. With these documents you can be assured that if your child develops a medical problem, his privacy rights under HIPAA will not prevent you from accessing medical information and making appropriate health-care decisions.

Additionally, if she attends an out-of-state college, it's advisable to have health-care proxies in both the home and away states.  Make sure to have your child provide a copy of his or her health-care proxy to the campus health center.

Do not limit this to kids off to college. I recommend this for any unmarried adult children as well. Once they start building up financial assets, add a durable power of attorney. That way, you could handle all their financial matters if they were to become incapacitated in some way.

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