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Your baby is all grown up and off to college. While they still may be a young child in your eyes, the law sees them as an adult. At age 18, they take on the responsibility of their own health care decisions and parents may be surprised to know that without the proper documents in place, you might not be allowed information in the case of a health care emergency.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates health care privacy and keeps medical information private for anyone over 18, even from parents, unless the proper documents are signed and in place. Regardless if you’re paying their tuition or they’re on your health insurance plan, medical professionals will not share information or include you in the medical decisions about your child without these documents.

Documents your young adult’s needs

Before your child leaves home, he or she should create and sign both a health care proxy and a living will. When these documents are available, you can be involved if the need were to arise.

A health care proxy (also called a health care power of attorney) will authorize you to give and get information in the case of a medical emergency. It gives someone the power to make medical decisions on your behalf.

A living will is created when you are healthy, to give you control over what might happen in the future by stating your medical preferences if you were to become incapacitated. This gives you a say in how you’d like things to be handled.

Without the proper documents arranged before they leave home, you could both end up in a bad situation if a medical emergency were to arise. So while it’s easy to get caught up in other college details, having the proper documents in place is much more important.