August 01 2023
Categories: Latest Updates
August 01 2023
Categories: Latest Updates
As children grow, the time inevitably comes when they spread their wings and embark on their own journey through adulthood. Upon turning age 18, the law recognizes them as adults and grants them certain rights, including privacy and control over their personal information. This is an important transition that warrants sharing the following information written by David Foy, an attorney with Berry Moorman, Attorneys and Counselors to help navigate the process smoothly.
When your child turns 18, you lose some legal rights as a parent with respect to access to his or her medical, financial, and educational information. Additionally, when your child becomes an adult you lose the ability to act on his or her behalf regarding medical and financial matters.
HIPAA Authorization & Patient Advocate Designation (a/k/a Power of Attorney for Health Care)
At 18, you will lose access to your child’s medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This means your 18 year old child, now an adult patient, is the only individual with access to his or her medical records other than health care providers. Even if your child is largely dependent on you to assist with his or her medical needs or for health insurance, hospitals and health care providers must comply with HIPAA regulations and can’t legally make exceptions without proper authorization.
Having a HIPAA authorization is important, but it will not give you the ability to make medical decisions for your child should that be necessary. In Michigan, anyone “18 years of age or older who is of sound mind at the time a patient advocate designation is made may designate in writing another individual who is 18 years of age or older to exercise powers concerning care, custody, and medical or mental health treatment decisions for the individual making the patient advocate designation.” A Patient Advocate Designation (a/k/a durable power of attorney for health care) allows the designated advocate to make medical decisions for your child if he or she is not able to do so.
If your child is moving out of Michigan to attend college or to work, be sure to consult that state’s relevant law to make sure the Patient Advocate Designation will be effective in that jurisdiction.
Finally, if your child is attending college, you may need to fill out paperwork specific to your child’s institution. For example, in addition to a HIPAA release, some schools may require parents to obtain their child’s permission to access records about his or her treatment at the school’s health clinic.
Durable Power of Attorney
While a Patient Advocate Designation allows parents to make medical decisions when necessary, a Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) is needed for parents to manage their child’s finances if needed or desirable. The person(s) granted power of attorney is called an “attorney in fact”or “agent” and is allowed to make decisions and take actions as authorized by the DPA. A DPA allows parents to help manage financial matters such as paying tuition, making investments, or obtaining loans, etc. Having a DPA in place helps avoid red tape involved with paying bills for a child, wiring money for a trip abroad, or inquiring about a student loan on the child’s behalf.
A power of attorney may provide that it applies only in certain situations (e.g., in the event of the child’s incapacity). It is also possible that authority under the power of attorney is only established for a limited period of time. This may be helpful if a parent and child decide that the power of attorney will only be necessary while the child attends college. Talk with your child about what option will suit his or her needs. Your child must establish the power of attorney, so make sure he or she knows what it entails. You can take the opportunity to teach your child about responsible financial habits and how to handle financial and/or legal matters independently. The process and requirements for establishing a power of attorney varies by state, so make sure your DPA complies with the state in which your child attends school or resides.
Educational Records Release
When your child heads off to college at age 18, you won’t be able to access his or her academic records unless he or she signs a release form.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires an adult student’s written permission to grant parents access to his or her educational records. This law is important for protecting your child’s academic privacy, but you’ll be left in the dark about his or her grades and financial aid information even if you are paying the tuition.
written permission to grant parents access to his or her educational records. This law is important for protecting your child’s academic privacy, but you’ll be left in the dark about his or her grades and financial aid information even if you are paying the tuition.
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