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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Oct 9, 2013

Many families with children heading off to college will overlook the fact their child is now an adult in the eyes of the law and need some all important documents.

Once a child reaches the age of 18 their parents are no longer entitled to see their medical and financial records and make decisions on their behalf. Because of this, it is important for young adults to establish an estate plan that appoints trusted individuals to make medical and financial decisions in the event they are unable to do so.

Not many college students consider the need for an estate plan, they are young and they do not have a lot of personal property. If your child loses their ability to make or communicate decisions, medical professionals might refuse to consult with or release information to you.

Without proper documents parents cannot access their children’s financial records, either.  This can be a serious situation if your child is involved in a car accident and is left unconscious. These are the basics of estate planning that should be set in place for every 18-year-old whether they have moved out of the house or not.

When most people think of estate planning the first thing that comes to mind is a will. While most 18-year-olds do not need a will, all should appoint a trusted friend or relative to serve as their health-care proxy. This person has the ability to make medical decisions in the event the patient is unable to communicate their wishes. Both the child’s primary physician and proxy should obtain a copy of the form, which can be drafted by an estate-planning attorney or downloaded from the internet.

Also, keep in mind the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which protects patient privacy. This gives medical professional’s permission to share information with only those named on the form.

For more information consult an estate planning attorney through MCBA’s Lawyer Referral Service.