Be sure to have ‘the talk’ with your kids before they leave home

When children turn 18 they are adults, regardless of how mature they actually are. As parents, you’re no longer entitled to access their medical records or make legal decisions for them without their permission.

It’s unlikely they will have the real-world experience at that age to handle all medical and financial decisions on their own. This can feel scary, especially if they are leaving home to go to college or to work. It might feel scary to them, too. To ensure you can still have the level of involvement necessary for you all to feel comfortable, it’s worth sitting down with your now-adult child to discuss these types of issues. For example, you might discuss having your child execute a HIPAA release and a health care proxy.

A HIPAA release authorizes you to continue accessing an adult child’s medical information to help them stay on top of their prescriptions and doctor’s appointments and manage ongoing care for medical problems. Health care proxies enable you to make medical decisions for adults who cannot make them on their own.

You might also consider approaching your child about executing a power of attorney, which empowers you to make financial decisions on his or her behalf if, for some reason, he or she is unable make such decisions.

This is not intended for you to control your child. Kids need the chance to “launch” and learn to manage complex parts of their lives and make important decisions for themselves. But in these early years, you both may feel more comfortable if you still have some limited involvement in these areas. It’s a personal decision, but it’s certainly worth discussing with your kids and maybe with a family law attorney.

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