Turning 18: Planning Ahead
January 30, 2023
Turning 18 is a momentous occasion, accompanied by many new freedoms and opportunities along with increased responsibilities and most notably, the official recognition of an individual as a legal adult in the eyes of the law.
While your child will enjoy the many exciting perks that accompany their newfound adulthood such as staying out without a curfew and gaining the right to vote and make their voice heard they’ll also reap the more exciting benefits like accessing financial accounts in their name that they previously may not have had access to and entering legally-binding contracts. Hence, there is much accountability to be taken and responsibility to operate with as one navigates through these new freedoms.
Sign a Medical Power of Attorney
You will find that upon waking up the night after your child turns 18, that they are no longer under your guardianship on healthcare portals where you could initiate care and treatment on their behalf. Arguably one of the most important measures a parent can take upon the commencement of their child’s adulthood to guarantee their ongoing support and involvement in their lives is a Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA). It grants a select individual the ability to make healthcare decisions on one’s behalf in the event that they’re unable to as a result of injury or illness. Without completing this task ahead of time, parents face the risk of time-consuming guardianship battles in court that could hinder them from making medical decisions for their child (such as in the event of a car accident or incapacitating illness) in a timely manner, leaving the ultimate outcome in the hands of the court.
Durable Power of Attorney
While your child may enjoy the many highly-anticipated freedoms that come with adulthood, they are likely still financially dependent on you as their parents. This includes coverage under a parent’s auto and health insurance. Creating a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) allows parents to assist in the management of their child’s finances and enables parents the ability to access bank accounts, sign tax returns, and complete other transactions as well as the ability to act on behalf of the child if they are a different part of the world, are incapacitated, or are otherwise unable to.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), an individual’s personal health information is protected. Once a child turns 18, healthcare providers can no longer legally disclose information regarding their patient records or treatment plans to their parents, even if they happen to be on their insurance plan. This can prove an impediment for parents seeking to know the status of their child’s health or make necessary medical decisions for them. Having the necessary medical records and information regarding your child’s health is especially essential in the case a parent needs to exercise their Medical Power of Attorney. A signed HIPAA release form by your child grants parents and guardians the ability to access their medical records and speak with their healthcare providers.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), in a manner similar to HIPAA, protects the privacy of educational records including report cards, test scores, and disciplinary records. When a child turns 18, their educational record becomes their own and cannot be released to their parents without their consent, despite the fact that their parents may be funding their tuition. A FERPA waiver permits parents of adult children to maintain access to these records and continue to be able to request amendments to them as needed.
Though your child may always remain your child in your eyes, the reality is at 18 they will earn the status of a legal adult, coinciding with the expansion of many of their freedoms, while simultaneously, many will be relinquished from you as the parent. Despite this abrupt shift, it is likely your child will still be largely dependent on you, as such, there are important steps you will want to take to ensure you can best support your child. Planning ahead by filling out the necessary documentation can provide a great sense of relief and guarantee that you can continue to support them. Keep a record of the documents you fill out at insureyouknow.org to easily keep track of them and access them.