It is wonderful to bring up the children, make sure they are educated and see that 18th birthday come along. However, it is important to recognize that many things change from an estate planning and legal standpoint, according to grbj.com in “Give your graduate the gift of legal documents.”
Here are recommended steps to take so parents can still be involved in their children’s lives when they are needed:
Health care proxy/medical power of attorney. Even if you are the person paying for health insurance, you are not legally permitted to make decisions on their behalf. Have your child sign a proxy/POA form designating who has the primary authority to make health decisions if he or she is unable to do so. This is especially important when parents are divorced: both parents need to have the proper forms. Our estate planning attorneys can prepare these for you.
Durable power of attorney. If your child has signed a durable POA, you will be able to handle their financial matters, especially if your child becomes incapacitated.
HIPAA authorization. Medical providers may not disclose a patient’s medical status unless they have legal permission. Your child should sign a HIPAA authorization with each of their providers, giving the parent access to all their information. This is especially necessary for a child with health or mental issues.
FERPA waivers. This one takes many parents by surprise. Even if you are the one paying for tuition and all college expenses, the college will not provide academic records, including grades and tuition bills, due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Contact the college and find out exactly what forms they need to be sure you have access to all of your children’s information, including any health and mental health treatment.
Wills and trusts. If a child has assets and no descendants, they need a will or revocable trust to protect the parent’s taxable estate and allow someone to manage these assets, if they die prematurely.
Medical records. Make sure the child has access to their medical records, including medications, allergies, immunizations, etc.
Insurance. See if the family’s medical, homeowner’s and auto insurance coverage extend to a child living away at school and in another state. If the child is renting a house or apartment, make sure they have renter’s insurance.
Proof of identity. Make sure the child has access to their passport, birth certificate or Social Security card so they can get an internship or a job.
Bank accounts and credit cards. If the family’s regular bank does not have a branch where the child is attending school, the parents should consider opening a basic checking account at a local branch. Both parents and child should be on the account.
Registration. It’s time to register to vote and sons will need to register with Selective Service.
Our experienced estate planning attorneys can advise you on the proper documents needed for your family now that you have adult children. You can request a consultation by submitting our online form.