The Wall Street Journal online ran an article on March 14, 2011 which in part said the following about preparing our children for when they become an adult while away at college:
5. THE ADVICE: Help children protect their health and finances from uncertainty and risk.
Once a child turns 18, parents no longer have the legal authority to access the child’s medical records or make health or financial decisions for the child, says Laura Mattia, a Fair Lawn, N.J., certified financial planner.
That loss of control over a child’s care “is a hard thing for a parent to hear,” she says, but families need to create a “game plan” to address the unexpected.
It should include three documents-a health-care directive, a HIPAA release and power of attorney-which together allow parents to access a child’s medical records and make decisions on the child’s health care and finances if necessary.
Ms. Mattia gave this advice to a client whose child was going to study in London for a semester. The client initially was shaken by the realization that she could no longer make crucial decisions on her daughter’s behalf without taking legal action, Ms. Mattia says.
But it prompted a conversation between mother and daughter that brought into the open the anxiety they were both feeling about being so far apart and introduced the daughter to the importance of financial and estate planning. It also prompted the mother to take another look at her own estate plan.
“It was an empowering discussion for both the mother and daughter,” Ms. Mattia says.