Parents of 18 year olds should know

Parents in the Dark with 18 Year Olds

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Turning eighteen is a special time in life.  High school graduation, new job, and possibly college.  While your son or daughter may still seem like a “child” to you, turning eighteen brings about many legal changes for your newly-minted adult.  But, there are some things that parents of 18 year olds must know.  Parents of eighteen-year-olds no longer have control over their medical, financial and educational information/decisions.  They can be left in the dark unless they get some important paperwork in place.  We recommend that you talk over these issues with your children to see what works best for your family.  Keep in mind that you need to be sensitive to the comfort level of your child.  After all, the reason parents have a need for these documents is because your kids are now adults.  It is not exactly the basis of an “easy conversation,” but definitely a worthy one. 

HIPAA Rules Parents Must Know

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects the medical privacy of your new adult.    Accordingly, a doctor will not want to discuss the medical issues with the parents, even after an accident or during an illness. Thus, parents no longer have access to children’s medical records and cannot make medical decisions on their behalf.  Importantly, the fact that your child is on your health insurance is inconsequential.  The family should also consider obtaining a Living Will. 

Healthcare Surrogates to Avoid Possible Guardianship

Talk with your child about completing a healthcare surrogate and HIPAA release that name the parent as the healthcare surrogate.  Your child may need to complete forms in two states if they go to school or work out-of-state.  Without a healthcare surrogate, parents may have to petition for a guardianship which is time-consuming and costly.  Otherwise, the doctor may have to make the decisions. 

Educational Records Release

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that students 18 and over provide written consent prior to the school releasing educational and disciplinary records to the parents.  Parents paying tuition bills face the same concerns.  Thus, the parents may not know, for instance, if the grades dip too low to sustain a scholarship or place the child in academic jeopardy.   Contact the college directly for the specific “FERPA” form for parents to complete. 

This year, as we face COVID-19, your kids may attend college virtually and may be around a lot more.  Still, it is as important as ever, and maybe more so even, to get in your planning. 

Lori Vella is an Estate Planning and Business Attorney. She works virtually throughout Florida and New York, but has her home office in Tampa, Florida. She is mom to a little boy which ignited the passion for helping other families. She and her son enjoy car rides, playgrounds and taking mini-adventures. They also have an organic garden that surprisingly yields vegetables. Lori considers herself well-versed in Seinfeld and welcomes any trivia!

Disclaimer: The Law Office of Lori Vella’s website contains general information directed to Florida residents. This firm does not intend to give legal advice through its pages and/or blog. If you need legal advice, we encourage you to find an attorney licensed in your state. This language on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and this firm.

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