With summer finally here and college just a couple short months away, meeting with an attorney is probably the last thing on your child’s mind but making this a priority before they head off to college should be on every parent’s mind. According to the great state of Texas your 18 year old is now legally an adult and your involvement in their financial and medical lives has been profoundly cut short. Access to their medical and financial records, as well as the ability to speak up on their behalf is no longer an option, regardless of whether you are still paying for some of their living expenses or not.
For instance, because of the recent HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) regulations, gaining access to your child’s medical condition if he or she is hospitalized, or even getting a simple copy of his or her medical records (something you have had the right to do throughout your child’s entire life), is not an option any longer. Imagine hearing that your son or daughter who is away at an out of state college was in an accident and when you call the hospital, nobody is able to tell you anything. This can leave parents in a panic and completely helpless to the situation at hand.
Another thing to consider is your child’s financial records, which are now just as private as your own. Unless you have access to joint accounts that you previously set up, banking institutions, credit bureaus, credit card companies (which he or she is now of legal age to acquire without your permission) and even colleges are no longer allowed to discuss these matters with you. In fact, even your child’s grades and report cards are a private matter moving forward, even if you are paying his or her tuition.
A few more responsibilities that come with turning 18 are the ability to vote, get called for jury duty, enter into a legal contract, get sued, go to jail, get married, and own property (including cars, firearms, homes and land).Young men must also register for Selective Service as well and the choice of joining the military, as well as dropping out of school are also no longer your call.
Documents such as the HIPAA Release, Durable Medical Power of Attorney, and a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney can be put in place with the help of an attorney. These documents can allow you to access some of your child’s financial and medical records by listing you as his or her proxy. This will keep you in the loop as much as possible without having to go through a real hassle later on. Otherwise, if the situation comes up where you need to gain legal permission to step in, you could be looking at a very lengthy and very expensive guardianship proceeding that may publicly declare your child incompetent.
Many parent’s don’t stop and consider what it means to be 18 and are often shocked to find out to what extent things have changed. Taking this extra step to ensure that you remain a key player in your child’s life is very important.
If you would like to learn more about the rights and responsibilities that come with turning 18 call our office to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Consultation and let us help you feel confident that your young adult has the proper tools for a successful future.