John R. Bullis: Key documents your adult child should have
February 5, 2018
You probably realize when your child becomes 18 years old, your child is a legal adult in Nevada.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out it's wise for the 18-year-old to have some basic legal documents. The power of attorney for health care, the HIPAA authorization and probably also the power of attorney for financial matters can be quickly prepared by an attorney.
The main point is someone, probably the parents, should be authorized to get medical information about the young person. Especially if the young person, let's call her Ann, is out of town for work or school.
If Ann is in another state, the power of attorney for health care and the HIPPA authorization forms might also be done for that state as well.
What if you want to talk with the doctor or hospital and they may not recognize a form done in accordance with Nevada laws?
The power of attorney for financial matters could be important if Ann has a car accident, or becomes unable to make financial decisions. Ann probably has or will have a bank account and a credit card. If Ann isn't able to deal with paying her bills timely because of some accident or problem, the holder or appointed agent can act on her behalf.
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The employer or school may have some forms, or at least some indication of who to contact in an emergency, but the medical providers will want a proper power of attorney for health care that includes the HIPPA waiver and/or a HIPPA authorization form that allows the agent to speak with the doctors or hospital.
Some folks suggest even a "living will" be done, especially if organ donation is a desire. This all seems to say Ann is an adult. She needs to plan for the emergency we hope won't happen.
It's not difficult to make a reduced photocopy of the documents. Then copies can be carried by Ann and copies given to the parents, or whomever Ann chooses as an agent.
Since Ann is now a legal adult, she must sign the forms to choose who will help if the situation requires it. If Ann doesn't want to authorize you or someone else to act for her, it's her right and decision to not sign the forms. The goal is to be able to help in the time of a crisis. Having those forms can avoid a lot of grief and anxiety.
We all hope those forms won't be needed, but she should have them just in case. It's sort of like carrying a spare tire but hoping you never have a flat.
Did you hear? "When things go wrong, remember this … Champions expect pain," said Keith Ziegenbein.
John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.