6 Things You Should Do To Protect Your Child When they Turn 18
A lot changes when your child turns 18.
They can move out. They can vote. They could join the military. They may come home with lottery tickets or even tattoos.
And as scary of a thought as it may be, once your child turns 18, you are no longer able to legally act on their behalf.
That’s right -- you can no longer access things such as their medical, financial, or school records, even in an emergency.
So what if there was an emergency? We get it. It’s a scary thought. At Berry Insurance, most of our employees have children -- some have already crossed the threshold into adulthood, others are well on their way. We also help clients of all ages and backgrounds get the right insurance they need to protect their specific family dynamic.
So in this article, we’ve teamed up with Family Legal Partners to put together some advice to help make sure you and your adult child are both supported in an emergency.
1. Sign a HIPAA authorization release:
Once your child turns 18, you are no longer able to access any of their medical records.
So if your child is willing, you should have them sign a HIPAA release form.
If you have a HIPAA release form signed by your child, healthcare providers will be able to provide you with medical information about them.
This means if your child has a medical emergency and can’t update you themselves, their doctor will be able to fill you in on what is going on.
2. Sign a medical proxy:
Now what if your child had a medical emergency that left them incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for themselves? If this was the case, I’m sure you and your child would both want you to be able to make medical decisions on their behalf.
But, if your child is over 18, you would legally not be able to … unless you are your child’s medical proxy.
A medical proxy allows the child to appoint a parent to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event of their incapacity.
To appoint a medical proxy, your child would need to fill out a Massachusetts Healthcare Proxy Form, sign it and have two witnesses sign the form. You and your child should keep the form on record, and also give a copy to your health insurance provider.
3. Sign a power of attorney:
Aside from health alone, there is also a financial aspect to protecting your child once they turn 18.
If your adult child became unable to manage their own financial affairs, what would you do?
This is where a power of attorney comes in.
A Power of attorney allows a child to appoint a parent to attend to their financial affairs if they’re unable to do it themselves. If appointed, you would be able to access bank accounts, manage credit card companies, and deal with contracts, loans, and enrollment agreements.
4. Consider life insurance:
We know it’s hard to even imagine the death of your child.
But if the unimaginable were to happen, you would want to be sure you were financially capable of handling their final affairs.
And when your child turns 18 and ventures out into the world on their own, their safety risks increase.
So if you aren’t currently in the position to pay for death-related expenses, you may want to consider life insurance.
If your child gets a life insurance policy and lists you as the beneficiary, you would receive funding upon their death to cover whatever you need to.
You will hopefully never have to use it, but it’s good to know it would be there if you did need to. Plus, life insurance is less expensive the younger and healthier you are, so now might be the right time for your child to secure a policy.
To learn more, check out this article: When are the Best (and Worst) Times to get Life Insurance?
5. Set up your child with personal insurance:
If your adult child is moving out of your house, they will also need to get their own personal insurance. Depending on their needs, they may need auto insurance, named non-owner, or renters insurance.
If your adult child is moving and taking a vehicle they own, you may need to remove them from your policy and they will need to get a policy of their own. If you still own their vehicle, they may be able to stay on your policy. You'll need to check with your insurance agent to see what your insurance carrier requires for your specific scenario.
Auto insurance provides pivotal injury, liability, and damage protections, so they will need to be sure to get a comprehensive policy with the proper limits.
To learn more, check out this article: How Much Car Insurance Do I Need? (And Why the State Minimum Isn’t Enough)
Named non-owner insurance:
If your child is moving and doesn’t own a car but may rent or borrow one, they may need named-non-owner insurance.
Non-owner auto insurance is a car insurance for people without a car, used to cover gaps in a borrowed car’s insurance policy if they were to get in an accident while borrowing it.
For more information, read: What is Non-Owner Auto Insurance?
If your adult child will be renting an apartment, they will need renters insurance to cover their personal property and liability.
For more information about renters insurance, read: What is Renters Insurance?
6. Set up an emergency plan:
Whether your child has been independent for quite some time, or still convinces you to manage all their “adulting” for them, preparing for their financial future as it relates to you needs to be a collaborative effort.
If you’re completing the steps above, make sure you and your child are doing it together, and are both aware of the plan in case of an emergency, This should include mutual knowledge of where you keep documents such as the HIPAA release, health care proxy, power of attorney, and life insurance policy, and an agreement of when and how they should be used.
Use trusted sources to help you plan:
The thought of making all these changes to set your child up for success once they become an adult can be daunting. You may be the adult in this situation, but it doesn’t mean you know everything under the sun.
But that’s what we have experts for!
If you’re feeling apprehensive, it doesn’t hurt to ask for help.
If you want help preparing some of the documents we mentioned above, reach out to our friends at Family Legal Partners.
If you’re interested in learning more about insurance or getting a quote, reach out to us at Berry Insurance and we can help you out!