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Your Child is 18, Now What? Thumbnail

Your Child is 18, Now What?

Your child’s 18th Birthday is a milestone for her as well as for you.  She feels like she is now an adult and you are wondering where the years have gone.   Under the law, she is an adult, and this is reason for you to have an important conversation.

Medical Records when your Child Becomes 18

Many parents do not realize until an emergency arises that when their child turns 18, they no longer have legal access to their child’s medical records.  Even if she remains on your medical insurance coverage, her records are considered private and only available to her.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act known as HIPAA protects medical information of the adult patient.  Even a parent can be prevented from obtaining any information.

This could be very important if your son or daughter becomes seriously ill or suffers a serious injury.  Your longtime family doctor might be accommodating, but if your child is away at school, you could have difficulty obtaining medical information or assisting in your child’s care.  Taking action to make sure you can obtain information whether home or away is the best practice.  

What to do?

After the celebration of this milestone, have a talk with your young adult child.  Explain the challenges that could arise from a sudden illness or injury and have him sign two documents.  The first is a HIPAA release form which would authorize medical personnel to release information to you about your child’s health.  This form will only release information, and it is the first step.  

In addition to the HIPAA release, you need a Power of Attorney for Healthcare.  This document can name one or both parents as the adult child’s agent for healthcare.   If your child is unable to make medical decisions for himself, this document empowers you to make decisions on his behalf.

If he goes to school in another state, it is important to have a document approved in that state as well as your home state.

Education Records

Most colleges and universities cover this next one.  But, you should know that in order for you to receive information about the educational progress and grades of your eighteen year old, you need another release. There is a privacy law protecting educational information as well.   

Be sure to request the release of information form specific to the college or university at the time of enrollment.  Most institutions have one for parents.  Even if you are footing the bills, you will be prevented from receiving reports on grades without a specific release.

For information on preparing your child for the real world, contact us.


Written by Connie C. Guelich, CFP, AEP, CLU, ChFC.  This represents our views at the time of this writing, and it is subject to change.  It is not intended to be personal investment advice.   If you would like to discuss your own account, please don’t hesitate to call us.