COVID-19 reminds us that our high school seniors need a few legal docs
COVID-19 has crushed the spring ritual of high school graduations.
But it can also encourage graduates and their parents to prepare to meet the practicalities of the youngsters’ sudden entry into adulthood, from making medical decisions to choosing what to study. How can parents and their offspring get ready for the transition?
Amid the (muted) joy of the occasion, facing such practical concerns is easily overlooked. The entrances to many housing subdivisions sport banners trumpeting the names of the community’s high school graduates. For parents and grandparents alike, it’s an exercise in wondering how little ones grew up so fast. Grow they did and grow more they will.
As they celebrate their high school graduations with virtual commencements that are around the time of their 18th birthdays, we hope and pray that they will advance in wisdom and make good choices in life.
Critical Docs for Your New Adult
From a financial planning standpoint, your recent high school graduates still depend largely on the Bank of Mom & Dad. Recognize, however, that the law now views many of them as adults. In 46 states, the age of majority is 18. In six states, legal adulthood commences at 18 or upon graduation from high school, whichever is sooner. In Alabama, Delaware and Nebraska, the threshold age is 19. In Mississippi, it is 21.
As an adult, your graduate should have a will, even if he or she owns very little. Otherwise, in the event of a fatal accident or illness, the legal process (called an intestate proceeding) to sort out who gets the deceased’s belongings is heartbreaking and irksome.
Once young people are deemed adults, health-care providers will not share medical information with parents. That’s unless a parent has a durable power of attorney for health care, signed by the adult child, appointing mom, dad or both as their agent empowered to make medical decisions if they cannot.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), bars doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers from disclosing information about a person’s health or medical condition without express permission.
Your relationship to the patient is irrelevant. Unless you have a power of attorney with HIPAA provisions, no health information will be shared. Without documentation, a sick or hurt adult child away at school or traveling on a break has a problem: Parents could encounter potentially disastrous delays in getting proper care.
Thoughts from a Financial Professional
As your high school senior embarks on his or her new journey, parents are likely involved in planning for their trip – whether they’re heading to college in the fall, entering the work force full-time or taking a gap year to visit friends and family. But like all trips, the more they plan, the more successful their journey will be.
I look forward to discussing how I can help prepare your recent graduate to be the most successful they can be. And how I can help you transition to this new chapter of your journey as well.