Many people see the age of 18 as an important milestone. After all, that is when you become an adult in the eyes of the law.
However, it is easy to overlook the implications of this moment. Parents and children alike might celebrate this occasion, but the moment your child turns 18, you no longer have the authority to make decisions for them. This might seem like a part of life, but what happens if your child faces an emergency?
Accidents happen. But can laws prevent parents from helping?
The last thing any parent wants is to receive a frantic phone call from their college-age child. They worry the worst has happened. For example, teens and young adults face a high risk of being involved in a car accident. Parents could face several challenges in trying to help their child in this situation:
- Distance, as many children move away to attend college
- Limited points of contact, especially if their child is injured
However, the other challenge is a legal matter. California parents might come up against obstacles when they call the hospital for information about their child. This is because HIPAA laws prevent medical staff from discussing a legal adult’s condition with anyone – including their parents.
That is why families should consider making a plan
This concern has existed for years. And it will continue as children become legal adults, move on to attend college or engage in other post-high school adventures. As Forbes reported in 2014, powers of attorney are critical to protect children as they move forward into early adulthood.
No parent – or adult child, for that matter – wants to feel helpless in these situations. Thankfully, it is possible to avoid that stress. If you have high school- and college-age children, you should consider having a conversation with him or her — that they should consider establishing:
- An advance health care directive: This can help make sure your child gets the care they need. Your children can also assign you as an agent who can make medical decisions on their behalf. This also often ensures you can discuss their conditions and care with their medical provider.
- A durable power of attorney: You should not forget financial issues either. Part of entering the adult world is managing finances. In the event your child cannot make financial decisions, a power of attorney can allow you to step in and make these decisions for them.
Parents cannot establish these things for an adult child. But parents can explain what their children need to do. The adult child can then meet with an attorney without parents to get it done.
These conversations are never easy, no matter your age. However, they are important to protect the ones you love most.