Tag Archives: health care decisions

Happy 18th! Time to Make Adult Decisions!

Your child reaching 18 years old is a milestone.  Legally, your little one now is an adult with adult rights and responsibilities.  Here some of the ways the situation has changed.

“Our Son Does Not Want That” v. “ But He Told Me He Did if This Happened”

No parent should have a child become incapacitated through illness or injury, and be faced with making crucial health care decisions for your child.  Your child becoming an adult adds a layer of complication.  Georgia has an Advanced Health Care Directive that allows an adult to state what he or she wants for medical care in that situation, and designate who will make the decisions.  Other states use a living will, health care power of attorney, or a combination of the two.  Your now-adult child executing a clear and legally enforceable directive as to what your child would wants, plus who your child wants making the decisions, is a wise move.  This will reduce the risk of a legal fight that can cause more pain and suffering for all involved.

“Access Denied”

Your now-adult child has rights under HIPAA and other privacy laws that will restrict your access to your child’s medical records.  The child can give anyone permission to access his or her medical records – typically through a written consent or release.  The consent can be added to an Advanced Health Care Directive or in a separate document.

“Hands off My Money”

You child turning 18 means you will encounter resistance if you try to get information about his or her bank accounts, credit card accounts, and so on.  Your child’s right of privacy comes at a cost if your child cannot takes care of his or her affairs, be it because of illness, injury, or other reasons.  A power of attorney can be useful if the child wants to entrust someone to handle his or her financial affairs in those situations.  Your child making an adult decision like that can reduce the risk of having to rely on a judge’s decision. 

“But I am the Parent – Doesn’t that Count?”

It is risky to rely on a doctor, banker, and so forth to automatically defer to you as the parent of your now-adult child.  Lacking a power of attorney, directive, or written consent could put in you in the position of having to get a court order if your child is unable to give consent, when you need to have that consent.  It is easier on everyone to have that done in advance.

Whether your child will make a health care directive, sign a power of attorney, do a will, or any other adult decision is up to your child and your child alone.  Being an adult means having to make these decisions.  Have a talk with your child about this part of adulthood.  Suggest that your child speak with an attorney on how to get done what the child wants.  Hopefully, the paperwork gathers dust from non-use, but it will be there just in case.

This post provides general information only.  This post is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to be legal advice about your situation.  A blog article is not a substitute for legal advice that fits your situation.  Laws change and your situation may be different.  You should consult with a licensed attorney for legal advice specific to your circumstances.

© 2017 Matthew D. Macy