There are a number of tasks and documents that can help you prepare for your child’s 18th birthday. You are no doubt planning the celebration of one of the most important milestones in your child’s life, but you should also know that you will no longer legally have access to information about their health, finances, and education. Specific legal documents must be executed in advance if you need to make any decisions on behalf of adult children, in the case that they become unfit to make decisions on their own.
The following are specific actions to take:
- Sign a FERPA Release Authorization. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records for those over the age of 18. Your child can sign a FERPA release form that allows you to view education records, including grades, transcripts, and disciplinary action, as well as other school records, such as tuition and scholarship information or campus health clinic visits.
- Obtain a HIPAA Release. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not allow health care providers to disclose any medical records, or share health status, to another adult without consent. A signed HIPAA waiver will grant you access to your child’s medical information.
- Appoint a Healthcare Power of Attorney. At the age of 18, your child can grant you the authority to make health care decisions and access medical records if they become incapacitated. A healthcare power of attorney refers to both the legal document and the person appointed with legal authority.
- Appoint a Financial Power of Attorney. Like the healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney, the document and the designated individual, can make financial decisions and access financial records on behalf of an adult child.
- Open a Credit Card. A credit card will allow your child to start building a good credit score and can help them establish financial independence. A relatively low credit card limit can also be helpful in learning the basics of fiscal responsibility, without the risk of incurring an excessive amount of debt.
- Order a Credit Report. Minors can be victims of identity theft just like adults. Child identity theft occurs when someone uses a minor’s personal information, typically a social security number, to obtain credit or employment. As your child transitions into adulthood, do everything you can to protect personal information and assets. Check your child’s credit reports for any fraudulent activity before applying for that first credit card.
- Create a Will. In the tragic event that an adult child dies without a will, that child’s assets could become subject to probate laws. Typically, those assets would pass to the adult child’s parents or siblings. A will helps to ensure assets are distributed as your child prefers.
Turning 18 is a significant milestone, signaling adulthood and the various responsibilities that come with it. Prepare in advance to ensure that your child’s rights and assets are protected.
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