College Paperwork: Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney

It’s time to drive/fly/ship your college Freshman off to school! In addition to making sure they have their new sheets and perhaps a new toothbrush, among other things… make sure they have these essential documents, too.

Your “baby” is heading off to college! The decision is made, the finances are in order- but………… there is one problem no one ever thinks about. Your “baby,” is now 18 years old – an “adult” in the eyes of the law, and as such you cannot make decisions for him or her anymore or access personal information. Just ask any parent who has tried to contact a school to deal with a financial matter or tried to contact the infirmary to deal with a health crisis.

Two simple documents can help you avoid these problems.

A power of attorney allows your child to appoint you to act on his behalf, should he become disabled or incompetent or is merely unavailable. This document will allow parents to deal with the financial aid office, the insurance adjuster or the bail bondsmen!

A health care proxy allows your child to appoint an agent to act on his behalf and make medical decisions when he cannot speak for himself. If the incapacity is long term, the power of attorney and health care proxy avoid the need for a court appointed guardian and conservator to make decisions for your child.

Taking the time to sit with a qualified, experienced estate planning attorney may seem like a luxury, but it is not. You send your child off to college with all the tools necessary to be successful. Make sure that these documents are part of that “tool box”.

This post was provided by Karen McSherry, Attorney at Law.

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