Even if they are still a dependent, once your son or daughter turns age 18, their legal relationship with you is in most respects severed. In case of a medical emergency, this means that even though you are their parent, physicians and/or hospital staff may elect not to share information about your child’s health situation and care with you in order to protect themselves from potential litigation.
Why? Because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) signed in 1996 includes a number of strict privacy provisions to ensure the safeguarding of an individual’s personal medical information without written authority. As a result, there are several documents that you should urge your child to complete and sign before heading off to college.
Just because you’re footing the bill for your child’s tuition and health insurance, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you still have all the parental rights you had before they reached legal adulthood. A few minutes of your child’s time in filling out and signing these legal documents can avoid a lifetime of regret should an emergency ever happen. Talk to your attorney and financial advisor, as they can both assist you in this important endeavor.