Happy 18th Birthday! Now What?
Please share this message with the new adults in your life.
Congratulations! You are now considered a legal adult. Aside from purchasing alcohol, there is now very little you cannot legally do. Even though you may not feel any different, from a legal standpoint, a lot has changed.
When you were a minor (under the age of 18), your parents were considered your legal guardians and were responsible for making all of your decisions for you. Now that you are an adult, their legal authority is very limited if not completely gone. Although this new found freedom may sound exciting, there are a few things you need to consider:
Access to medical information. As a legal adult, you are protected by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This means your private medical information can only be disclosed to those individuals you have authorized. If you want your parents to continue having access to this information, you will need to have a HIPAA Authorization Form prepared appointing your parents, or anyone else you designate, as an Authorized Recipient.
Medical decisions. Chances are, if something were to happen to you rendering you unable to make decisions, it would be your parents that you would rely on to make decisions about your medical treatment. As a minor, your parents automatically had that authority, but now that you are an adult, you must formally grant them this authority. This can be accomplished through the preparation of a Health Care Power of Attorney. Not only can you name someone to act on your behalf (an agent), but you can also provide some general guidelines regarding your healthcare wishes.
Financial decisions. If you are planning on going away to college or spending any significant time away from home, having a Durable Financial Power of Attorney in place may be helpful to you. Up until now, if you needed a parent to make a withdrawal from a bank account, or sign something on your behalf, there was no need for any additional steps because they were your legal guardians. However, now, if you want them to continue providing the same services, you will have to grant them this authority through the Financial Power of Attorney.
Managing your stuff when you die. You just turned 18, not 98, but now is a good time to begin some responsible habits and consider what will happen to your assets