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Legal Documents for a New Adult

If your child is an adult now, you should get some documents in place that would help you help them (at their direction) while they are away.  Whether they are going off to college or the military, or just getting their first job, these are critically important.  Due to HIPAA laws, you won’t be able to access their health information unless they give you permission.  While some parents may just get their child to sign a particular doctor’s release to deal with that doctor’s information, that won’t help if they have an emergency like a car wreck and can’t give permission.  

As a parent of one college graduate and two college students, I strongly recommend that you speak with your adult child about getting at least the following documents in place:

  1. HIPAA Release and Authorization - Allows you to access your medical information and bills.
  2. Medical Power of Attorney - You set out who would make medical decisions for you (and in what order) if you are unable to tell the doctor your wishes.
  3. Directive to Physicians - Confirm your wishes in the event you have a terminal or irreversible condition for which there is no hope of recovery and no chance you’ll survive more than 6 months. (Shockingly, the landmark cases that make this important came out of cases of young people under 30, not old people in nursing homes.)
  4. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney (Financial & Digital POA) - Allows those you appoint to step into your financial shoes if needed to access and pay bills, open and close accounts, and have the authorization to know your college online password.  (I had to use this document twice for my oldest daughter--at her request and direction--when she studied abroad.)