Parents and caregivers essential legal documentation checklist

While this topic usually comes up as children go back to school, with your family likely together it’s a good time to get your important documentation in order.

Typically we think to execute legal documentation that enables easier caring for an older adult or person with a disability, but it is equally important to have for children turning 18. If your child is age 18 or older, which is the “age of majority” in most states, or if you have children who live outside your home, there is important legal paperwork that, as a parent, will provide you reassurance. After this key birthday, your parental responsibilities and control cease and you no longer have access to your child’s medical or financial information unless you have explicit permission.

No matter what the future may hold, the checklist below lists the documents that give you that permission. Having them in place is essential if your child is counting on your assistance in a medical or financial emergency.

Essential Legal Document Checklist

The Document You'll Need Why You Need It Who Prepares
Health Care Proxy (or Health Care Power of Attorney) Appoints you as an “agent” with authority to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf if he or she is unable to do so due to an accident or disabling illness. Your attorney, with your child’s signature
Living Will (usually part of the Health Care Proxy) Provides specific information about the type of medical care your child wishes to receive. Your attorney, with your child’s signature
HIPAA1 Authorization Form Gives health care providers permission to share information about your child’s medical condition with you. Your Child
College or University’s Health Services Release Form (if required) Even with a HIPAA Authorization, some schools require a separate release form for their own health care center. School can send form; child must sign it
Immunization Records Provides a history of all the vaccines you received as a child and adult. Primary Care Provider
Durable Power of Attorney Appoints you to make legal and financial decisions on your child’s behalf. Also makes it easier for parents to manage finances for a child attending college outside the U.S. Your attorney, with your child’s signature
Will Assures transfer of assets according to your child’s wishes if he or she owns real estate or is a trust beneficiary. Not necessary for children with limited assets and named beneficiaries for financial accounts. Your attorney, with your child’s signature
FERPA2 Consent Form Allows school to share education records (grades, transcripts, disciplinary actions) and financial aid documents with parents. School will notify parents; student signs form

For help with creating the legal documents you and your adult children will need this fall, contact your SVB Private trusted advisor.

1- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996)

2- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974)

The views expressed in the article are those of the author and/or person interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of Silicon Valley Bank, a division of First-Citizens Bank and First Citizens BancShares, Inc. The materials on this website are for informational purposes only, are subject to change and do not take into account your particular investment objective, financial situation or need. Since each client’s situation is unique, you should consult your financial advisor and/or tax planning professional before acting on any information provided herein.