The year your child turns 18 is an important year: It’s the year they’re able to vote for the first time, it’s usually the year they graduate from high school, and it’s the year your child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law.

Some parents find it difficult to think of their new 18 year old as an adult; especially if that 18 year old is still living at home, still on the parents’ health or auto insurance, and still needs financial assistance for college, rent, or other necessities. This is why many parents (and children as well) are taken by surprise when suddenly school, state, and healthcare officials are no longer able to share information with parents due to privacy protection laws.

Privacy protection laws such as the HIPAA, and legal documents such as an Advanced Healthcare Directive or a Durable Power of Attorney may seem insignificant in regards to an 18 year old, but they should be taken very seriously by both parents and children. Without these documents parents may not be able to make healthcare decisions for their child in an emergency, and in some situations may not even be able to obtain critical information about a sick or injured young adult.

Every child’s first trip to the estate planning attorney should be at the age of 18, when these crucial documents can be signed, and when parents and children can discuss (perhaps for the first time) their options for medical and financial decision-making in emergency situations. This may be a small step toward adulthood; but it’s one that can make both parents and children feel more secure and at peace as other rites of passage occur in the coming years.

Ilene L. McCauley and Frederick H. Goldinov are licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. The law firm of Goldinov & McCauley, PLC provides legal services for clients in the State of Arizona. The information provided on this website and our blog is general and educational in nature and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor does the use of the website create an attorney/client relationship. Laws of specific states or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy or completeness of this information which cannot take the place of one-on-one personal legal consultation and advice. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. No legal representation is created, and we make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. Neither the authors nor anyone forwarding or reproducing this work shall have any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website or blog.