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Power of Attorney for Parents

| September 12, 2018

You just dropped your child off at college.  You’ve purchased dorm supplies, linens and new clothes.  You have organized a budget to cover tuition, room and board, and travel as well as for your student’s personal spending.  You even figured out the college’s tuition payment system.  For good reason, you are feeling pretty accomplished and happy that you guided your child through their high school years and are on to this next step.  But, if your child is over 18, there may be one more important item you need to complete: a Power of Attorney (POA).

When your child reaches the age of 18, they are considered an adult in the eyes of the law. This means you can no longer answer for them or obtain information about them without written consent.  This can become a major problem for you and your child if the child needs legal, financial, or medical assistance and cannot speak for themself.  Even in non-catastrophic situations, being able to assist your child in these areas while they are away can be very helpful.  As such, now is a good time to create a Power of Attorney so you can continue to assist your child when necessary.

There are different types of Power of Attorneys and the laws differ by state.  Below are some basic descriptions.   Take a moment to read over the different types and decide what best suits your needs.  You may find that a General Durable Power of Attorney with Healthcare language offers you the most encompassing authorization or that a basic Healthcare Power of Attorney is all you need. 

Whichever option is best for you and your family, do not put it off; creating a POA is easy these days and there are a number of websites that can help you create one for free.  Once completed, store it in a safe place with other important documents, then relax and enjoy watching your child grow into the adult you have helped them become.

Examples of different POAs:

An Ordinary Power of Attorney is only in force as long as your child is capable of speaking for him or herself.   

A Durable Power of Attorney remains in effect even when your child is not physically or mentally capable of speaking or acting for his or herself.

A General Power of Attorney grants general authority and allows you to manage all types of legal and financial affairs.  You can also add medical authority to this option. 

A Specific Power of Attorney limits your responsibilities to certain decisions that are spelled out in the POA document. 

A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to make healthcare decisions for your child when they are too sick to do so. 

All Power of Attorneys cease upon death and some cease once the principal becomes incapacitated.

This is just a reminder of the importance of obtaining a Power of Attorney for your child as they become an adult. Please speak with your attorney about which POA best suits your needs and have your attorney or legal advisor review all legal documents.