We are our children's parents for life, right? Well, if your child is 18 or older, that child is an adult, and has the right to privacy under HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. One consequence of HIPAA is hospitals will not reveal any information on people that may have been admitted under emergency conditions or even if that person is a patient in the hospital. This makes it difficult or impossible to locate a person who might be missing. In practical terms, this means that if your child is seriously injured and unable to give consent to the hospital, you may not be able to get information about your child or participate in care decisions. The solution to this problem is for your adult child to have an Advance Health Care Directive naming an agent to make health care decisions if the adult child is unable to do so. The agent can be parents or other trusted adults. The child should also sign a HIPPA release at the same time.
You don't need to own Downton Abbey to need estate planning. Estate planning means insuring that your children are taken care of, that you get to make your own decisions about the kind of health care you want, and that your survivors won't be left with a mess to clean up if anything happens to you. It's that simple, and that complex. And just as you wouldn't (or shouldn't) ask your auto mechanic to take out your appendix, you shouldn't ask a website or computer program to draft your estate planning documents.