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Important Medical Documents for Your Young Adult Child

As your child graduates from high school, you are both thinking about the exciting future. But whether your child is off to college or some other venture, there are a few legal decisions you should make in case of an emergency. Imagine if your child ended up in a hospital and could not make decisions for himself. Of course, you’d want to step in to help. But if your child is a legal adult, age 18 or older, you will not be able to do so. In fact, you wouldn’t even be told any specifics about his condition due to HIPAA regulations.

To prevent this problem, you and your child should fill out paperwork that will enable you to help him or her in case of an emergency. There are documents you need:

  • A durable power of attorney;
  • A health care power of attorney; and
  • A HIPAA release.

These papers are often used in elder law, by adults caring for their parents. They signify that the agent has been given the power by the signee to preside over financial and medical decisions and grant access to their medical records.

In each document, your child can decide who they would like to deem responsible as their agent. This may be you. However, if your child is uncomfortable with having you in this position, he or she may choose someone else.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: This document designates someone as an agent to preside over financial and legal matters on your child’s behalf. These forms can vary from state to state. Durable Power of Attorney grants agent a lot of power. For this reason, some people may be hesitant about signing it. Talk to your attorney about the best approach, but this one is especially useful if your child is traveling abroad.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: This document gives an agent authority to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf. It is a good idea for your child to nominate more than one agent, in case the first is unable to serve.
  • HIPAA Release: This document designates less power to the agent but allows medical staff to share your child’s medical status or condition with agents.

While you want to help your child, he or she is considered an adult at age 18. Without these legal documents, you may have no way to help. Of course, you and your child should discuss these issues and decide what is best. If you have any questions, contact us for help.

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