Back in 1990-something, I was 19, and in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One day walking to class, I slipped on the ice and fell face down onto a busy sidewalk where I proceeded to black out for a few seconds. An acquaintance was one of the large group that stood over me when I came to, and we hopped in someone’s car to get me to the hospital. After being admitted to the ER, the nurse proceeded to call my mom, back home in the Chicago suburbs to get more information. Now if that were to have happened in 2023, the hospital would not only not reach out to my mom, they would not be able to tell her anything about my condition. Laws have changed, and now at 18, your child is now an adult, even if it sure may not feel like it. 


That is why in today’s hectic world, it is now vital to have some paperwork in place when your child turns 18, and definitely when they leave home and go away to college. Okay, so what needs to be done…


  1. MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY: appoints an individual to make health care decisions on one’s behalf should they become incapacitated due to serious injury or illness. Without this, parents would have to go through a legal process in court of securing guardianship in order to do what this simple document can do much easier. Laws vary a bit by state so you are best to talk to an attorney or research on a reputable website in order to see which state these should be done in (if your child will be attending college in another state), and also whether you need a witness/notary involved.
  2. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY: this appoints an individual to make financial decisions on one’s behalf should they become incapacitated due to serious injury or illness. Again, if not in place, and an issue arises, family or parents would have to endure a legal process to try and obtain authority over the following things
  • Manage bank & investment accounts.
  • Deal with credit cards & creditors.
  • Interact with landlords & insurance companies.
  • Carry out financial tasks for a child who is traveling or deployed.
  • Manage student loans & financial aid.
  1. HIPAA Form: this is a release that serves as a “permission slip” for the healthcare provider to disclose health information to anyone specified.  These can be modified to not include certain topics including sex, mental health, or drugs if your child is adamant about there being some limits.  The HIPAA release form does NOT need to be notarized but does need to be signed.  


Having these in place when your child turns 18, and especially before they leave for college will give you peace of mind that you are able to provide necessary help in the case of unforeseen circumstances.