High School graduation is a time of excitement and joy for most parents and their children. Shortly thereafter, those children are headed off in various directions – the workforce, college, trade schools, etc. As parents, we often do not realize that when a child reaches the age of 18, in most states our rights to control and assist in our child’s affairs are significantly diminished. As a result, parents are no longer entitled to view their financial, school and medical records or make decisions on their behalf.

In the event of a debilitating illness or a child’s hospitalization, where s/he cannot make or communicate their own decisions regarding healthcare, medical personnel may be prohibited from consulting with parents on treatment options and may also be restricted from sharing medical information. A temporary guardianship over an incompetent adult approved by a Court may be required to act on the child’s behalf.

It is important for an adult child over the age of 18 to have the following 5 estate planning documents:

A Healthcare Power of Attorney – This document allows the appointed healthcare attorney-in-fact to make medical decisions on behalf of a child that is unable to make those decisions for themselves.

A Living Will – An individual can use a living will to details specific wishes regarding their end of life care such as the use of life prolonging equipment and the use of artificially supplied nutrition and hydration.

A HIPPA Release – Execution of a HIPPA Release provides written approval for medical personnel to disclose medical information to the listed individuals on the release. The HIPPA Release can be customized by your child to provide access to only certain information while limiting sensitive information.

A Durable Power of Attorney – This document at the direction of your child appoints an attorney-in-fact to handle their financial matters. It may be used to assist in the filing of tax returns, dealing with a Landlord, banking needs, or student loans. The effective date of a Durable Power of Attorney can be upon its signature or upon the happening of a future event (Springing Power of Attorney). Under these circumstances, I recommend an effective date at execution to allow access to the child’s financial record and accounts at any time, versus a future event such as the child being declared incapacitated.

A FERPA Release The Family Education Rights & Privacy Act. As parents, we often feel that because most of us pay our children’s tuition and fees that it provides us access to their school grades, transcripts and disciplinary records. FERPA was created to protect our student’s privacy. A FERPA Consent allows for the release of the information delineated by the student to the specific person(s) listed on the form. The student must detail the type of information to be released and the circumstances for the information.

Additionally, although many of our 18-year-old children have not accumulated a great deal of wealth, there are other assets that can be addressed in a Last Will & Testament. Our children often possess digital assets such as email accounts, social media accounts, gaming accounts and bank accounts. Parents and family may lack the ability to gain access and/or close these accounts on behalf of our children without a Will.

Preparation of these estate planning documents provides peace of mind of both the parents and children and assures our child that we as parents could assist them when a need arises.  If you are interested in learning more about estate planning for your child, send me an email or give me a call at 317-636-5561.

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