Once a child reaches the age of majority, he or she is not only entitled to vote but can also own assets and protect his or her medical information. As a result, if anything happens to your now-adult child, his or her doctor is not authorized to speak to you about your child’s medical condition. Furthermore, any assets your child may own are subject to a conservatorship or probate in the event of his or her incapacity or death. Accordingly, at the very least, a simple estate plan appointing people to manage assets in the event of incapacity and/or death and to make medical decisions on behalf of the child is necessary to avoid court involvement.
California provides simple estate planning forms that may suffice:
Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney : (scroll down to Power of Attorney (California Uniform Statutory)” and click the adjacent link). This form allows you to appoint someone to manage financial affairs in the event of your incapacity
Advance Health Care Directive : This form appoints someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot make such decisions on your own.
HIPAA Authorization: HIPAA is a federal law that protects your medical information and keeps it private. Unless you waive your rights or authorize someone to receive your medical information, doctors and insurance companies cannot speak to your healthcare agents about your medical information. A HIPAA Authorization allows you to waive such rights in favor of named people.
Please note that these forms, for which links are provided, are for informational purposes only. Please consult with an attorney before utilizing these forms.
Please note that the now-adult child should be completing these forms since it is his or her medical information being released or his or her assets being managed. These forms are often not enough for everyone above the age of 18, but may be a good start for those who just turn 18 with very few assets (if any).
Pointing you to these forms is meant to be a starting point for an estate plan for an 18-year-old. This does not constitute legal advice. Any questions that arise when completing these forms should be directed to an attorney.