Your child turned 18 and suddenly no one will talk to you. Not school personnel. Not your child’s physician. Not billing departments for medical bills or other accounts. The control you had yesterday to manage these things for your child is suddenly gone. Why?! If this hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t be surprised when it does. The moment your child turns 18, in the eyes of the law he or she is an adult. They must become responsible for themselves, legally. In theory, that’s great. In reality, most 18-year-old children still need their parents from time to time. Most often for serious matters – medical issues, financial complications, etc. Fortunately, getting back in the “inner circle” of your adult child’s life is fairly simple.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal tool we use to allow someone to nominate an agent to handle their financial affairs. I use financial affairs loosely, because this document can grant a wide range of authority, from handling the principal’s banking powers to their retirement benefits, from directing their mail to signing a mortgage.
The HIPAA Authorization is another powerful tool that allows doctors and other medical personnel to discuss a patient’s medical care with others of the patient’s choosing. Now that your child is an adult, they are autonomous in the eyes of the law so medical personnel are likely to ask you to leave the room. Don’t be surprised or angry. Simply hand them this document that grants them the authority to speak with you about your child’s medical care. To make the once-had, now-lost, authority complete, I would also recommend a Medical Durable Power of Attorney.
A Medical Durable Power of Attorney is different from both the Financial Power of Attorney and HIPAA Authorization discussed above. This legal tool deals primarily with making medical decisions on behalf of your child, when they cannot otherwise make their own medical decisions. So long as your child is alert and competent, they will have the ability to direct their own medical affairs.
BUT, in the event of a tragic accident or need during surgery, this Medical Power of Attorney is used to nominate someone – generally a parent at this point – to make decisions on their behalf. Without this document, the medical personnel will look to the ‘next of kin’ to make that medical decision. But the process of determining who is the ‘next of kin’ can take some time and when you are dealing with a life-threatening medical issue, the last thing you want to do is go through the process of proving you are in fact next of kin and the right person to make medical decisions.
If you have a child approaching the age of 18, or who has passed it already, let’s talk! We have a plan that is just right for you to continue carefree in your parenting. Give us a call at 616-365-5055 or contact us on our website here. We look forward to talking with you.