The law says that kids become legal adults the day they turn 18. So what does that mean? Yes, they can vote…but what else? When a child turns 18, parents no longer are able to make health care and financial decisions for the child without written legal authorization.
Imagine being a parent of an 18 year old. Now imagine that the child is in the hospital due to an emergency situation. Without the proper planning, doctors are unable to share information with you.
Imagine your 18 year old is a victim of fraudulent use of their credit card. As the parent, since your child is a legal adult, banks will not communicate with you about this.
So what is the solution?
Together, parents and children should review and discuss several important legal documents with the understanding that it’s the child’s right to decide how to proceed. Important documents to review include:
- Medical Power of Attorney – Gives parents the authority to make medical decisions on a child’s behalf if the child is unable to do so.
- Living Will – States a person’s wishes about life-extending medical treatment.
- HIPAA Release –Allows heath care providers to release medical information with designated people.
- Durable Power of Attorney – Grants parents the authority to sign documents for their child. For example, this allows a parent to manage financial accounts or file a tax return on behalf of the child.
Without these documents, the courts will make decisions for you. Therefore, it is important to have this difficult discussion with your children.