Preparing for Adulthood

When a child turns 18 there are some hidden consequences that many parents are unaware of.

Turning 18 is an exciting time in your child’s life —so many opportunities and adventures await them. But turning 18 also has some hidden consequences that many parents are unaware of. When a child turns 18, they have become an adult in the eyes of the law and they are entitled to the same privacy protections that you are. As a parent, you can no longer make legal, health, or financial decisions for them and you will often be denied access to certain information. Privacy laws prohibit medical providers and financial institutions, including colleges and universities, from disclosing private information without your son or daughter’s consent. This is why it is imperative for those turning 18, and especially for those going off to college, to have financial and healthcare powers of attorney. What do these documents allow parents to do?

A Financial Power of Attorney will allow you to complete simple tasks for your child, such as renewing a passport or driver’s license, responding to a summons for jury duty, or updating a vehicle registration. You may be denied access to financial information even if you are the one making the tuition payments. A Financial Power of Attorney will provide you access to financial information relating to financial aid, student loans, and credit cards.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney (also known as a health care directive) allows you to make medical decisions in the case of an emergency, without the need for court involvement. If you are not your child’s nominated healthcare representative under a valid healthcare directive, you may be required to seek appointment as guardian of your own child—a time consuming and expensive process during an already difficult time.

If your son or daughter is attending an out-of-state school, you will want to consider having a power of attorney and healthcare directive for both their home state and for the state where they are attending school. These documents are also extremely important if your child decides to study abroad.

Parents will also want to consider a HIPAA Release which will allow access to medical information even if your child is not deemed to be incapacitated. This document will also allow you to transfer medical records between facilities and to speak with caregivers regarding your son or daughter’s diagnosis and treatment options. You child can also authorize you to access their online accounts for school, banking, email and social media. This allows you to pay bills, access bank records, and shut down social media profiles if necessary.

There is a lot to think about when you are preparing your child for college. So when you are researching computers, purchasing furniture and school supplies, and looking for student housing, make sure to make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to incorporate these documents into the college plan.


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For more information, please contact Katie Kranz at 651.351.2139, kkranz@eckberglammers.com or Patrick Boley LL.M. at 651.351.2115, pboley@eckberglammers.com.

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