If your child is graduating from high school this spring, you and your family are about to undergo a major change. The person you have raised for the past 18 years is no longer a child. The law says that they are now legally an adult and can make decisions on their own, without your consent or interference.
Perhaps your child plans to go to college. Maybe they plan to get a job and start earning their own living. Either way, they are likely going to move out of your home soon.
While reaching legal adulthood can be an exciting time for you and your child, it also brings up issues that you’ve never had to think about before. For instance, what if your child becomes seriously ill or is involved in an accident? Can you authorize the medical care they need — and do so quickly enough to save their life?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Once your child becomes an adult, you no longer have automatic control over their medical decisions. In fact, you can’t even access their medical records or talk to their doctors without their consent.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, popularly known as HIPPA, protects your adult child’s personal health information, including the following:
- Medical history
- Test and laboratory results
- Mental health condition
- Health insurance information
In other words, health care professionals cannot give you any information about your child’s medical condition or treatment unless they specifically authorize you to receive it or a judge appoints you as your child’s conservator, a legal process that takes time.
Providing your adult child with an In Case of Emergency card (I.C.E. card) and helping them fill it out can help you be prepared for an emergency.
An I.C.E. card is about the same size as a credit card, and your adult child can easily carry it in their wallet or other safe place. It contains the following information about your child:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Current phone number
- School or work location
- Blood type
- Known allergies
- Contact information for who to call in case of an emergency
- HIPPA release to give this person or these people all necessary medical information
Additional Critical Legal Documents Needed
As important as an I.C.E. card is, it’s just one of the legal documents your adult child needs in order to be fully protected if they get into an accident or become otherwise incapacitated to the extent that they cannot make their wishes known. They will also need the following:
- Health care power of attorney
- Financial power of attorney
- Advanced Health Care Directive
The Experts to Trust
At AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc., we’ve been helping families for nearly 25 years to establish and maintain the estate plans they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. We stand ready, willing and able to help you and your adult child as well. Click here to receive your free I.C.E. Document Checklist or contact us with any estate planning questions you may have.