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Once your children turn 18, they are legally considered "adults" and you, as parents, lose your legal rights as their decision-makers, as well as the ability to access their information, even if your children are still on your health insurance plans and even if you still claim them as dependents on your tax returns.


That means if a young adult is in an accident and becomes disabled—even temporarily—a parent might need court approval to act on his or her behalf.

Here are the 3 essential documents your adult child should have in place, whether they are staying in Massachusetts, going off to college in another state, or (particularly important) going abroad:

  1. Health Care Proxy (also known as a “Health Care Power of Attorney”):   The Health Care Proxy allows your child to name another person (typically parents) to make their medical decisions if they are unable make or communicate them.

  2. "HIPAA" Authorization:  This allows the named person to obtain medical information for your child. The HIPAA Authorization can be a separate document, or can be incorporated into the Health Care Proxy.

  3. Power of Attorney:   The Power of Attorney allows your child to name you (or another person) to take over financial matters if need be, such as dealing with banking, signing tax returns, and other non-medical decisions. 


In addition to allowing seamless decision-making, having these 3 simple, yet important, documents in place can avoid a lengthy probate process such as guardianship in the event that an adult child becomes incapacitated. 

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