Amidst commencements and graduation parties, an item that does not appear on most parents’ summer checklists for their graduate is a visit to the attorney’s office. Upon turning 18 years old, a child is considered an adult for most purposes. Although a parent may be the adult child’s sole source of financial support and health insurance, privacy laws prevent parents from accessing such information about their adult child without explicit permission. This can be quite a shock to parents after being the primary contact for the child as to most matters for the previous 18 years.
Acceptable forms of permission to access information include a general durable power of attorney (for financial, academic, and property matters) and a health care power of attorney (for making medical decisions if the adult child becomes incapacitated). Colleges and universities may also have forms available that a young adult can sign. However, any such forms should be reviewed by an attorney to understand exactly what is being signed and if the documents do what they purport to do. A separate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act release should also be included. Further, if your child has assets that are titled solely in the child’s name, consider a will or at least beneficiary and “pay on death” forms for vehicles and bank accounts.
Many times, adult college-aged children are too busy to follow up on important items and desire that their parents handle these things. It is helpful to have permission documents in place so that you can assist and obtain information as necessary. Discuss these matters with your graduate, and call us at 248.477.6300 to schedule an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys to learn about these important documents that we can prepare for your graduate.