For many families, the month of August signifies summer coming to an end and the kids going back return to school. Checklists are made for open house, school clothes shopping, school supplies, and physicals. One item that is often overlooked, but equally important, is making sure to have the proper paperwork on hand to receive the information you need about your student. 

Parents of teenagers that are entering their senior year of high school or their first year as a college freshman may have reached an important milestone over the last year — they turned 18. As their parent you become accustomed to being able to receive access to their protected records – medical, financial, and academic.

For parents, we get used to being their unequivocal voice in all matters regarding their education and medical needs. However, the moment your child turns 18, your access to these records stops without the proper paperwork. Legally adults, these high school seniors and collage freshman are now responsible for all decisions regarding their health. Furthermore, due to the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), parents have no legal right to their adult children’s medical records or other healthcare-related information.

Many parents do not realize they can no longer make medical decisions or gain access to these records for their adult students. We get asked all the time if it makes a difference that they still live at home, are still on their parents’ medical insurance or are still in high school.  the answer is the same in each these scenarios, not without the proper documentation. 

There are four essential documents that can be filled out between you and your adult student so that you have the authority to access their records and make the needed decisions for them should something unforeseen arise. 

  • Medical Surrogate – This document allows an individual to designate another person to be their agent in the event they’re no longer able to make decisions regarding their own healthcare.
  • Power of Attorney -. A document that can be used to give another person the authority to make healthcare decisions, make financial transactions, or sign legal documents on an individual’s behalf if they become mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform these activities on their own.
  • Living Will – A legal document that provides a list of advance directives in which you specify the medical treatments, procedures, and medications you do or don’t want to receive. If you’re ever incapacitated and can’t speak for yourself
  • HIPPA Release – A legal document that allows an individual’s health information to be used by or disclosed to a third party.

In a perfect world, you’ll never need to rely on these forms. However, it’s always better to be prepared if things don’t go as planned. Taking a few hours to obtain and complete these documents allows you to protect them like you always have by knowing you can easily step in if situations arise where you are needed. 

We hope that circumstances never require having to use any of the documents but being prepared now can save you a great deal of stress down the road. One last tip: Be sure to keep copies of all documents on your phone or computer so that you can easily access them if necessary.

Knowing you have done everything you can to protect your children by hiring knowledgeable professional estate planning attorneys, like the attorneys at Overstreet Law, P.A can help alleviate worst case scenarios from happening. Along with the added benefit of peace of mind! Call us or contact us online for a confidential consultation, and we’ll let you know what to expect and how we can help!

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