by: Begley Law Group

by Kevin M. Buttery, Esquire

Believe it or not, when your child turns 18 he or she is considered a legal adult, and that means that even as their parent you no longer have the ability to control their financial or personal decisions. This makes it difficult to safeguard their physical and financial well-being. Even parents with the most responsible children may have restless nights knowing their child is now exposed to the world without protection. Particularly when your child goes off to college, it becomes important to be able to manage their finances and have access to medical records and grades. While your college-bound child may find it imposing, unnecessary or laughable, it is a good idea to have your young adult execute a General Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and HIPAA Release, so you can act on your adult child’s behalf while he or she is enjoying the new experience of college.

Under a General Durable Power of Attorney, you would have the ability to ensure that your adult child’s bills, tuition and other expenses are paid. You will have access to their credit cards accounts, as well as the ability to pay those accounts. Additionally, you will have the ability to speak with the Bursar’s office to make sure that tuition is paid. The ability to monitor your child’s finances while he or she is busy with school can serve to head off minor problems that could potentially become major problems.

An Advance Medical Directive and Health Care Power of Attorney is essential for a newly-minted adult, especially one attending college. In the event of an emergency, the parent of an 18-year old without any form of Health Care Power of Attorney would find it difficult to obtain medical information pertaining to the adult child. This becomes even more problematic if the child is unable to make decisions and there is no surrogate decision-maker in place.

In a time when medical providers are becoming ever more vigilant in protecting the information of their patients, even from the loved ones of such a patient, it has become increasingly necessary for parents to enter into more formal arrangements with their adult children, especially during the vulnerable years of college.