A power of attorney allows a young adult to appoint someone they trust. To make important financial and legal decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves.
This can be especially important for young adults who are away at college or living independently for the first time.
Without a power of attorney, their parents or other family members may not have the legal authority to act on their behalf in an emergency.
Legally speaking, when your child reaches the age of majority (18), parents do not have the right to review the child’s medical records or make decisions for their child’s health care.
Sounds wild right? But that is in fact the law. The medical and financial power of attorney, will set your young adult up for success and avoid a lot of potential heartaches.
Personally, I was under the impression that once you are a parent, you’re a parent forever. And while that is true for the most part, legally speaking, you’re not.
I can’t even imagine the level of concern that a parent must feel when their child officially turns 18, becomes a legal adult, and goes off to college.
The good news is that you can do something to lower that anxiety bar a few notches by being proactive with your baby’s newly found legal independence.
There Are Two Essential Power of Attorney Documents For Young Adults
These documents can be easily drawn up by your local Estate Planning Attorney.
1. Advance Healthcare Directive – a Comprehensive Legal Document that includes all medical decision-making forms
- Medical Power of Attorney – allows them to appoint another person to access his or her health care records. As well as make medical decisions on his or her behalf if the child cannot do so on his or her own. Completing a medical POA naming a parent as the Agent will provide parents and students peace of mind. If an emergency occurs, the parents will be allowed to do what they do best. Such as act on their child’s behalf and in his or her best interest.
- Living Will – addresses such things as your child’s wishes regarding organ donations and life-extending medical treatment. It lays out the procedures or medications to prolong your life if you can’t communicate with the doctors yourself. Having this document in place can help avoid the potential conflict. Different family members being at odds about how to handle a tragedy can add more stress.
- HIPAA Release Form – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevents anyone not named in a signed release from receiving any medical information about another adult, whether that adult is your child or not. We include this form in your advance healthcare directive, to make things less complicated.
2. Durable Power of Attorney – This document pertains to financial authority as opposed to medical
The durable power of attorney (DPOA) gives your attorney-in-fact (aka the parent or close relative you would like to designate) all the powers and rights that you do when it comes to financial matters. Your ‘agent’ can Sign documents on your behalf, pay your bills, break a lease if necessary, etc.
Not just for the added security of someone you know and love having your back. But, also in unavoidable situations. Students might want to study abroad or go on an extended trip. And worse, is incapacitated to do so due to an accident.
Unlike a general or springing power of attorney, a durable POA is in effect before AND after you’ve become incapacitated. Since that condition is somewhat of a grey area. It has to be legally stated by a medical doctor(s). You don’t want to leave a gap of time where you are powerless to help.
Bonus – Want To See Your Child’s Grades?
Well, you can’t. Not unless said child signs a FERPA release form, allowing you to do so. The FERPA release Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of college students’ education records.
This law applies to students who attend a school that receives any funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This form is actually provided to you by the school your child would be attending. So there is no need to seek this one out.
Disclaimer: Every state has its own laws and legal form names and inclusions. The information in this article is per Connecticut state laws. If you are outside of Connecticut, please check the laws within the state you live in, for more accurate information.
How To Talk To Your “Adult” Children About Legal Matters
For many parents, December is the time when their empty nests fill up with college-aged children returning home for their holiday break. It is a time of joy, reconnecting, and lots of laundry.
Hopefully, your college student’s time away from home was filled with learning and growing in good health. The last thing parents want to think about is that their child might have to be hospitalized while away at school. But, it is important to be prepared.
Worse than having your young adult child hospitalized is hearing from the hospital staff that you cannot receive any information on your child’s status or make any decisions on your child’s behalf.
Hopefully, after 18 long years of raising your children through thick and thin, you’ve developed a certain amount of trust with them. This may be the age where they are breaking free and flying out of the nest. Thinking they are more street-smart than their parents “supposedly” ever were.
But you may still prove them wrong and earn some cred with this one. Sit them down (bring cookies – no one can resist cookies) and explain the importance of these documents and all the medical and financial implications of being prepared for life on the outside.
Perhaps even set up a meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney to back you up. If they won’t listen to you, sometimes hearing it from a professional outside source could help validate you and your knowledge.
So In between catching up and folding laundry, please take some time to discuss these documents. Explain to your college-aged child the value of executing these very important documents.
Related Post: Estate Planning In Your 20s And 30s
We are here and ready to help! Call us at 860-669-1222 to schedule a consultation. Set up your young adult with the best possible jump into adulthood!
Marketing & Technology Director at RWC, LLC, Attorneys & Counselors at Law
Ukraine born and Israel / Miami, FL raised. University of Miami graduate in the Marketing field.
Mom to a girl, a boy, and a Siberian Husky.