According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.7% of 2016 high school graduates enrolled in college by October of 2016. While the data for 2017 is not available yet, we can only assume many students will be getting ready for their fall semester at college in 2017. If you are a college bound student or a parent of a college bound student, we recommend that you have proper power of attorney documents for health and finances prepared for the student.
Once a child turns age 18, they are legal adults. They are free to make their own decisions. However, what would happen if they were in an emergency and unable to make their own decisions? Would you be able to help your adult child? The answer is; not necessarily. Hospitals, doctors, and other entities may limit the information that they share with parents of the adult child. Can you imagine your child getting rushed to the hospital and calling and being told they cannot give you an update? Whether your child is attending college in state, out of state, or merely going on a spring break trip, it is important that they authorize someone to make decisions for them if they are not able to do so. The authorization can be given in two documents:
Durable Financial Power of Attorney – A durable financial power of attorney document enables the principal (college bound student) to authorize an agent (likely mom or dad or a sibling) to act on their behalf for all legal and financial matters. The power granted in the document will take effect immediately upon signing the document and can last through incapacity. A variety of powers can be granted to the agent in the document including the power to access bank accounts, pay rent or tuition, purchase everyday items the principal may need, and even take care of the principal’s pets. The principal chooses how much authority he or she would like to give the agent.
The principal may also give the authority to their agent to access their school records. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA”), parents of adult children in college do not have the right to access housing information or academic records of the student. If a parent wants access to records, the student needs to waive their protections under the law. Butcher Elder Law can include such FERPA waiver rights in a power of attorney document if the student wishes.
Not all financial power of attorney documents are the same. Work with attorneys to ensure that the document you are preparing fits your needs.
Healthcare Power of Attorney – A healthcare power of attorney document enables a principal to authorize an agent to make all health care decisions for them if they are not able to make decisions for themselves. The authority granted under the power of attorney includes the ability to access health care records, hire or fire medical personnel, and make end of life decisions. A Living Will is a companion document to the healthcare power of attorney. The document is the outward expression of the principal’s end of life decisions.
Without such documentation, a parent will be left without adequate information or potentially need to seek a limited guardianship over their child during their period of incapacity. Make sure that your student is prepared for all that college may throw at them. Call (440) 268-8284 to schedule your appointment today! Prevent Mistakes and Preserve Assets.