Legal Documents for Young Adults

July 29, 2023  | By Manisha Gupta


Did your son or daughter just turn 18? Chances are that they are about to start college and are looking forward to this exciting phase of life. You might not feel your child is fully grown and that they are ready to take charge of their life, but the reality is that they are legally an adult now. 

That means that unless you have the proper estate planning documents in place, you have no access to their medical records or any financial assets.

Before your young adults leave for college, we suggest having the following documents in place for emergencies.

  1. HIPPA Waiver– According to the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, hospital and healthcare providers can’t legally disclose an individual’s medical information to others without the patient’s consent. By signing a HIPAA waiver, your child can ensure you have access to his or her medical information in case of emergency. Here is an example of a very simple HIPPA waiver form.
  2. Advance Medical Directive –  If an emergency situation were to arise where your young adult is in an accident and cannot make a decision, this document functions as a healthcare power of attorney, allowing you to make medical decisions for your child should he or she become incapacitated.
  3. Financial Power of Attorney – There is a rare chance that an 18-year-old will have substantial financial assets or property in their name. However, there might be some  bank accounts or a small IRA that they contributed to from their summer job. Also, if there was an UTMA account set up for them when they were a minor, you have no authority over that account anymore.  A financial power of attorney allows your child to designate you as an agent to manage his or her financial assets. With this document in place, you’ll be able to manage your child’s finances, including paying bills and filing taxes on their behalf, etc.
  4. Financial Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) waiver – This is an optional document, and we recommend having an in-depth discussion with your young adult before you decide to have this in place.  Your young adult is craving independence, and you asking to get access to his education records might be misconstrued as an invasion of privacy. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student. The waiver will allow you to have access to your child’s education records, such as transcripts, class schedules, etc. If your family thinks it would be beneficial to have this in place, you can download a consent form for disclosure to parents here.

Manisha Gupta, CFP®, MBA
(512) 580-4722   |  [email protected]

Manisha is driven by the belief that the future depends on what you do today. Every small step that you take in the right direction is going to lead you towards your goal. She is a firm believer that if…Read More

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