Saturday, August 16, 2014
As you get ready to send your child off to college, the most important thing you can do to prepare for separation is to ask your young adult to sign a durable power of attorney and health care proxy.
Although these two estate-planning documents are commonly associated with elderly individuals, are essential for young people as well. Without them, many parents do not have the authority to make health care decisions or manage money for their children once they turn eighteen—even if they are supporting their children.
Many people are cautious of signing a power of attorney, since it gives uninhibited authority to the agent. College students may be especially concerned that their parents will be able to find out their grades. Yet, this fear is unfounded as parents are not parties to the agreement between school and student, even if parents pay for tuition. Although rules vary for different institutions, many schools will not disclose grades without a student’s permission.
A power of attorney can be useful in many situations, especially if a child goes overseas to study or travel. Getting the essential authority to be your child’s fallback for emergencies could be a right of passage and learning experience for both parents and child.
See Deborah L. Jacobs, Two Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Sign, Forbes, Aug. 15, 2014.