Ritigstein Law Parent Project

Parents — did you know that when your child turns 18 you can no longer:

  • Make medical decisions
  • Access medical records
  • Access academic records
  • Access college financial records

HIPAA, FERPA and other laws and regulations may prevent you from helping your kids once they turn 18 and prevent you from accessing their medical and academic information.

What do you mean I can’t make medical decisions for my child after they turn 18?

At the age of 18, your child legally has the right to make their own medical decisions and exclude you from being involved. Even if they are unconscious in the ER, you may not be able to assist if you do not have the proper legal documents reflecting that your child wants you to make decisions for them when they can’t make their own decisions.

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule provides protection and privacy for personal medical records. Before the age of 18, parents are permitted to access their children’s medical records. As soon as a patient turns 18, the privacy rights default to the adult child, meaning that you no longer have access unless your child gives you written permission to do so.

What is FERPA?

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act protects access to students’ information, including financial aid, billing, grades and school records. Before the age of 18, all rights to access the records of a child rest with the parents. Upon turning 18, the rights to access the child’s records transfer to the child, and, suddenly, your child can deny you access to their grades, financial records, and other school related information – unless you have a legal document that says otherwise.

What do I do to make sure I can still help my kids after they turn 18?

HIPAA, FERPA and other regulations may prevent you from helping your kids, and accessing their information unless you have the right legal documents that allow you to continue to parent after your children turn 18.

We have the solutions. Contact us to learn more.

References, links and more information:

Will You Be Able to Help Your College-Age Child in a Medical Emergency? — Consumer Reports

Beyond a Parent’s Reach: When a Child Legally Becomes An Adult — New York Times

Two Documents Every 18 Year Old Should Sign — Forbes


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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