Before you send your child off to college, there are two legal documents that you need to make sure they sign. They are:
1. a Medical Power of Attorney, and
2. a Financial Power of Attorney.
It may come as a surprise to parents and children alike that a parent needs to have legal authority to act for their child, but if the parent is to be the child’s medical and financial decision-maker in the event of an emergency – these documents are critical. In most states, without these documents, parents don’t have the authority to make health care decisions or financial decisions for their children after they turn 18—even if they are paying their college tuition, still have their children on their health insurance and claim them as dependents on their tax returns! So, if your child is in an accident and becomes disabled, even for a short time, a parent might need to go to court to act on his or her behalf. I have over my career seen and heard many horror stories about clients, friends and colleagues who find out the hard way. One young man in his first year in college (out of state) went to the school clinic for an allergy checkup, and it was discovered that he had a certain type of cancer. When the parents (a client of mine) called to talk to the doctor, they were not allowed information regarding their child’s condition, because he was over 18! A lot of anxiety could have been avoided if the young man had signed the medical power of attorney before leaving home!