Even though we still think of them as children, under the law when a teen turns 18, they are considered an adult. Being an adult allows them to vote, serve in the military, serve on a jury, sign a contract and get married without your consent. This is a big change from when they were 17. Here are a few things to keep in mind when your teen turns 18:
- All males with US citizenship (with very few exceptions) must register for the selective service upon reaching the age of 18.
- Although not required, this is a great time for your kids to register to vote.
- When your children turn 18, you no longer automatically have the authority to make healthcare decisions for them. And this is true even if they are still covered by your health insurance and you are paying the bill. This means that if your child has an accident or illness and is temporarily disabled, you may need court approval to act on their behalf or even to be informed of their medical status.
- Despite the fact that you are paying for their education, the FERPA law says you no longer have access to your child’s grades once they turn 18. That’s right, you can call the registrar and ask to see your 18-year-old’s transcript and they will not share it with you even though you’re the one signing the tuition checks.
Four Forms You Need When Your Child Turns 18
For a parent, the instinct to protect never ends. When your child turns 18, however, your legal right to access their records — medical, financial, and academic —comes to an abrupt halt, regardless of whether they are still in high school or covered by your health insurance plan.
Here are 4 forms parents, along with their teens, can complete so that they can continue to provide support to their teen in case of emergency.
- HIPAA Waiver-- After your child turns 18, the privacy of their personal health information is also protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA. A HIPAA release form can be easily obtained online for free or from your child’s doctor’s office. Some states require that the signature be witnessed or even notarized, others do not.
- Medical Power of Attorney—Have your young adult sign a medical Power of Attorney document when they turn 18. This document appoints an individual to make health care decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated due to serious injury or illness. If your child is going to college out of state, or simply moving away, it is important to research the documents you need in both your home state and the state where your child will be living either part-time or permanently.
- Durable Power of Attorney—Discuss with your teen the need for a Durable Power of Attorney, which would allow you to handle his or her financial affairs (pay their student loan bills, make car payments, access their bank accounts, pay taxes, etc.) if they were to become incapacitated—or even choose to study abroad. Here again, confer with your attorney because different states have different rules.
- FERPA Waiver (if they attend college)--The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA is designed to protect the privacy of educational records, including report cards, disciplinary actions, and test results. FERPA permits parents to access those records, request corrections as needed, and determine who else gets to see those records when their child is a minor. When the student turns 18, however, their academic record becomes solely their own, regardless of who pays the tuition. Most colleges will not release education records to parents without the student’s written consent — a FERPA waiver.
For more information on your teen flying the coop and how to help them gracefully, check out this article on GrownandFlown.com: https://grownandflown.com/18-college-kid-emergency-legal-forms-parents/.
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