The three documents your child needs to sign at 18

What you may not know is that you can lose all power to make financial or medical decisions for your child in an emergency or if they are unconscious. Doctors can use their best judgment on how much they reveal to parents, so being named your child's representative is one of the only ways to ensure you can make medical choices for your child and have access to him or her.

Get these three documents signed

Three important documents to discuss with your child when they turn 18 are:

  • HIPAA to authorize doctors or nurses telling you about medical situations, possible treatments and relevant medical history
  • Medical power of attorney to permit you to make complex medical decisions if your child is unconscious or to refuse treatments for them
  • Durable power of attorney to give you financial authority if your child is incapacitated for any reason, or if he or she studies abroad and needs tax forms signed

Drafting terms in these documents can be as broad or specific as your situation or state requires. It is also a great idea to have them all scanned with copies kept at home as well as on everyone's phone should an emergency arise.

While this can be a difficult subject to discuss with your child, it can prove to be quite valuable in the event of a tragic situation. Understand that you don't have to figure this all out on your own, either. You can consult an attorney who can help you and your child understand the legal measures that can protect his or her medical and financial best interests.