Once Your Child Turns 18  The Rules of Parenting Change

In honor of May’s flowers, Graduations and Mother’s Day, I’d love to share one of my favorite checklists for parents who have a new graduate in the family!

The rules of parenting change completely once your child turns 18. They may still be financially dependent on you, but suddenly they are legally an adult in the eyes of the law.  This can be both exciting and nerve-wracking! The two documents that are part of your toolbox for a new adult are a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Surrogacy, and a HIPAA Release.

A. HIPAA Release Once your child turns 18, it is illegal for a doctor to discuss their medical conditions with you—even during a life-threatening emergency. Even if you’re still paying the bills. 

The Federal Law that controls our private medical  information is called “HIPAA.” While you want your medical information protected, you may have a disaster on your hands if your child is unable to communicate their medical needs. That’s because in this situation, “protecting” your child’s privacy actually means preventing their doctor from sharing information with you.

B. Health Care Surrogate Designation  In Florida, we have a specific document to guarantee that if your newly minted adult is hospitalized, you’ll be able to make important medical decisions regarding what type of treatment should be provided. 

C. Durable Power of Attorney  A Durable Power of Attorney (“POA” for short) enables parents to access and manage their child’s finances. The Durable POA can be useful in many situations. If bank accounts, a car lease, a rental agreement, or other assets are titled in the name of the student, the POA avoids the expensive and drawn-out court process of having to be appointed guardian by the court for your own child.

The POA can be useful as it allows parents to act on a child’s behalf on all financial matters or set limits for financial circumstances. The POA also helps if your young adult has an overdrawn bank account and isn’t addressing the issue in a responsible manner.

Think of it as a superhero cape for you – you can swoop in and help your new adult with everything they may need help with.

D. Other discussions you may have with your graduate: 
A conversation about budgeting and financial responsibility. Talk to them about the importance of living within their means and show them how to make a budget. 

Discuss the importance of good credit. Talk to your graduate about the dangers of racking up debt, and teach them how to build and maintain a good credit score. 

Help protect their online identity. Talk to them about the dangers of sharing personal information online, and teach them how to create strong passwords. 

Discuss the importance of networking. Encourage your child to meet new people and make connections in their field of interest. 

Encourage your graduate to dream big. Talk to them about their long-term goals, and help them figure out what steps they need to take to achieve those goals. 

Finally, and most importantly, talk to your new adult about work-life balance. Encourage them to make time for the things they love, as well as working toward their future.

Next month: A checklist for Newlyweds in Honor of June’s weddings

Andrea L. Jakob, PA is located at 12401 Orange Drive, Suite 219 in Davie.
They can be reached at 954-862-1479 or on the web at www.jakoblegal.com.