One Hour, Three Documents, An Adulting Lesson for 18-Year-Olds

Graduating from high school is a pivotal point in a person’s life.  You are ready to go to college, travel the world, serve our country, or join the working world.  It’s a big leap from living in your parents’ home and abiding by their rules to living someplace new and creating your own set of rules.  Whatever your chosen next-step in life, while many 18-year-olds are itching for more daily freedom, you still turn to your parents or mentors to help you out with big things such as medical care or financial troubles.

When you turn 18 you are given the power to make more decisions for yourself and that means that in some cases, your parents are no longer automatically allowed to help.  The laws protect adults’ medical information and financial information.  Therefore, if you are injured and unable to communicate with doctors or medical personnel, there is no one there to help.  If you are hurt or sick while away from your parents or mentors, they will not be able to call you.

Luckily, there is a simple solution to all of these problems.  There are three legal documents that I recommend to all persons 18 years and older.  They are the Health Care Proxy, the HIPAA release, and the Durable Power of Attorney.

  • The Health Care Proxy is the document where you name someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to. It’s important to understand that if you are able to communicate to doctors what your wishes are, they will not need to call your parents.  This document is intended to be used only when needed such as if you are unconscious.
  • The HIPAA release is a document where you indicate who is allowed to access your medical records. This goes hand in hand with the Health Care Proxy, because how can someone make medical decisions if they can’t talk to the doctors about what is going on?  HIPAA is a federal law that protects your health care information.  Doctors, nurses, and schools cannot share your medical information without your expressed authorization.
  • Lastly, the Durable Power of Attorney works like the Health Care Proxy because it appoints someone to handle financial situations if you are unable to. Again, this document gives lots of “power” to who you name in them, so you must trust the person who you name as your agent in the document.

So how does a graduating senior get these documents?  At Ladimer Law the process is quite simple.

  1. You need to call or email an attorney to schedule a phone call or Zoom meeting.  Yes, you read that right; your parents cannot do this for you.
  2. During the scheduled phone call, the attorney will go into detail on how these documents. Then the attorney will ask you who you want to name as your agents in the documents.
  3. At the end of the scheduled phone call you and the attorney will book an appointment to meet to sign the documents.
  4. At the document signing meeting, you will sign (a/k/a execute) the three documents, and then take them home with you.

The first phone call takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on the number of questions asked.  The document signing meeting takes about 15-20 as well.  So, the whole process takes less than an hour!  Adulting doesn’t have to be tiresome or time consuming all the time!

This article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only.  Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers of this article should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

Author:  Julie McQuade Ladimer, Esq.


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