Important Documents for Adult Children

Do you have college-age children?

Crucial Documents they should have...

Once your children turn 18, they are legally considered "adults" and you, as parents, lose your legal rights as their decision-makers, as well as the ability to access their information, even if your children are still on your health insurance plans and even if you still claim them as dependents on your tax returns. 

That means if a young adult is in an accident and becomes disabled—even temporarily—a parent might need court approval to act on his or her behalf.

Proper planning can help bring everyone some peace of mind, ensuring that someone can make their decisions if they are unable to make them, and to allow you to have access to critical information.   

Here are the 3 essential documents your adult child should have in place, whether they are staying in Massachusetts, going off to college in another state, or (particularly important) going abroad:

1.  Health Care Proxy (also known as a “Health Care Power of Attorney”):   A child over 18 has authority to make his/her own health care decisions, including whether to disclose information to parents or anyone else. 

The Health Care Proxy allows your child to name another person (typically parents) to make their medical decisions if they are unable make or communicate them.   This should be done for Massachusetts as well as the state where they are attending college (each state has its own form and requirements).   

2.  "HIPAA" Authorization:  Federal law prohibits information about your child's health from being disclosed to anyone other than your child.

The "HIPAA" Authorization form allows your child to designate you (or another person) to have access to his/her medical information.  

The HIPAA Authorization can be a separate document, or can be incorporated into the Health Care Proxy.

3.  Power of Attorney:   The Power of Attorney allows your child to name you (or another person) to take over financial matters if need be, such as dealing with banking, signing tax returns, and other non-medical decisions. 

In addition to allowing seamless decision-making, having these 3 simple, yet important, documents in place can avoid a lengthy probate process such as guardianship in the event that an adult child becomes incapacitated. 

In addition to these 3 "lifetime" decision-making documents, adult children should also have a simple Will if they own any assets, including investment accounts and/or stocks.

Robin Gorenberg, Attorney-at-Law

(617) 731-9924