It’s important to remember that along with the typical rights and responsibilities we associate with turning 18, there are other consequences of adulthood that require action by parents to protect their adult children.
Once a child turns 18 and attains legal adulthood, the relationship between parent and child becomes drastically different. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as “HIPAA,” imposes an obligation on medical providers to protect information regarding an adult patient from all others, including the child’s parents (unless given express permission). Further, parents of a legal adult cannot make medical decisions for their child without a healthcare power of attorney.
I often advise clients to discuss with their adult children the benefits of executing a healthcare power of attorney and HIPAA medical authorization to protect the children in the event of one of life’s unforeseen accidents. Planning ahead in these situations can eliminate much of the stress associated with unforeseen events. If you have any questions regarding such planning, you should immediately speak with an estate planning professional.