My eldest daughter is a (gulp) high school senior.

While she’s knee-deep in college applications and essays, I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that this time next year my baby won’t be at home.

To make sure I can help her if god forbid a life-altering accident and illness happens to her, I will be having her sign basic estate planning documents once she turns 18.


Believe it or not, even though you pay all of the bills for your 18-year-old and still do her laundry, in the eyes of the law, she is legally an adult and you have no more rights to her medical information than you would a stranger off the streets. This is true even if your daughter is still on your insurance.

…Unless You Have These Documents

In order to be able to step in when your college-age child needs you most, you should encourage her to execute a HIPAA Release and a Medical Power of Attorney.

The HIPAA Release gives medical professionals the authority to talk to you about your child’s medical situation so you can make informed decisions. The Medical Power of Attorney allows you to make medical decisions on your children’s behalf if they are seriously injured.

These documents are relatively inexpensive, but are state specific. Make sure you have the right form for the state your child will attending school in.

Both you and your child need to have copies of the signed documents. Also, remind your child to keep “In Case of Emergency” contacts in their phone, wallet or purse, and/or other logical places where emergency personnel might look.

There are lots of things we do to prepare our children for their life as adults. Be sure that being prepared for a medical emergency is top on that list. And laundry. Kids eventually do their own laundry, right? 


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