Should we send our kids to college with POAs? 

As you celebrate high school graduation and college admissions, there is probably an 18th birthday mixed in there as well. And as a result of that 18th birthday, your child is now a young adult with full authority by law to make their own decisions and sign their own legal documents.  You, Mom & Dad are out! You can no longer go to the bank for them, talk to their doctors or talk to the school about their grades, unless they give us permission. 

Their permission is granted with a Power of Attorney.  Specifically, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy. 

  • A durable power of attorney is a financial power of attorney that allows you to appoint an agent to handle your general or specific affairs if you become disabled, ill, or leave the country. Once your children turn 18, and their parents can no longer act on their behalf, they should have a durable power of attorney to appoint someone to deal with their financial affairs in the event they cannot do it themselves. 
  • A health care power of attorney is a type of advanced directive that allows you to designate a person to make medical decisions for you and to discuss your condition and/or review medical records with your doctors. 

Without these, in most states parents don't have the authority to make health care decisions or manage money for their kids once they turn 18 - even if you are paying tuition, still claiming your kids as dependents on your health insurance plans and tax returns. If a young adult is incapacitated, even temporarily, a parent might need court approval to act on his or her behalf. 

Such scenarios could be as extreme as a tragic accident requiring surgery or as simple as accessing your student's transcript at college.  Though parents often pay for tuition, many schools will not disclose grades without a student's permission. A POA can be useful in a variety of situations that can arise when children go overseas for study. In case of an emergency, having a POA makes it easier to contact the local embassy or wire money their bank account. It could also come in handy if you need to sign a legal document, such as an apartment lease, in their absence. 

Whether your child heads off to college, the service, or to work, protect their health and finances with the proper power(s) of attorney. It's an act that could protect you and your child when your family needs it most.  

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