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College students need a power of attorney before they leave home

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2020 | Estate Planning

Power of attorney documents allow adults to give legal authority to another adult in specific circumstances. People often use power of attorney documents to authorize someone to make medical decisions or handle financial transactions on their behalf.

Due to their nature, most people associate the creation of a power of attorney with older adults or those with substantial responsibilities, like children or a business to manage. However, anyone who doesn’t have another adult legally authorized to take action on their behalf could benefit from power of attorney documents. That group includes students about to leave home to go to college.

Parents of college students have very few rights

When a student turns 18, they become a legal adult. Regardless of whether they can work a job to support themselves or are dependent on their parents financially, their parents lose legal and financial authority on their 18th birthday.

The parents of college students don’t have the right to ask for grades or other reports from the school even if they pay tuition. Parents of college students also can’t access their child’s bank account unless they are on the account. They won’t be able to make medical decisions on behalf of their child, even if their child is unconscious and unable to speak for themselves.

If something happens to the students were they become incapacitated, such as a car crashed or a sudden illness, their parents won’t be able to manage their finances or handle their medical care without the legal authority to do so. Power of attorney documents can limit when parents exercise that authority so that students have protection without feeling like they must give up their independence.

Students and their parents benefit from a power of attorney

If there’s anything more frightening than moving hours away from home to live independently for the first time, it’s probably sending your child off to attend to college and knowing there’s little you can do to help them succeed.

College students benefit from creating power of attorney documents by knowing there is someone to manage their finances or get them the medical care that they need in the event of an emergency. Parents benefits because even if they aren’t the person named in the power of attorney, they at least know that their child has the necessary support in place if anything unexpected should occur.