It can be so difficult for parents to send their child off to college for the first time. After all, there are crazy things going on in the world and you won’t always be there in person to make sure they are alright. While it’s difficult letting go, you still want to make sure you have the ability to help if they need it. It should be noted that once a child turns 18, they are legally an adult and therefore a parent may not have the authority to step in and make decisions if necessary. One way to provide some much-needed protection is to have a power of attorney (POA) prepared before they head off on their own.
Reasons They Need a Power of Attorney
When deciding if a power of attorney is really necessary, consider the following situations in which the document could be used:
- If they suffer from an illness or disability that prevents them from making financial decisions for themselves, a POA can give you the authority to make decisions for them
- If they were to experience a medical emergency, it can be very difficult for a parent to get any information from medical staff or make any medical decisions. This is because once they turn 18 years old, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) laws prevent this disclosure, unless your child specifically gives them permission.
- Financial matters such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, filing taxes, or any other number of issues, can be difficult for your child to handle from a distance. A POA can allow you to step in to help when your child needs assistance.
Different Types of Powers of Attorney
There are 2 different power of attorney documents, and each serves a different purpose. Thus, your best bet is to have both forms prepared in order to cover any possible scenario.
Medical Power of Attorney – If your adult child ends up in the hospital, this document can give you the authority to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to do so. Without one, all medical decisions would be made solely by the doctors.
On this same note, it is also a good idea to complete a HIPAA authorization form. If your child was involved in an accident, for instance, the law would prevent you from obtaining any information over the phone regarding their medical condition. This form would give you legal authority to receive their private health data.
General Durable Power of Attorney – This document gives you the authority to make financial decisions on your adult child’s behalf. This can allow you to help manage bank accounts or pay bills, or make larger decisions if they are unable to due to illness or disability. Additionally, it can give you access to your child’s grades and transcripts. Many parents do not realize that this information is not automatically available to them just because they are paying the tuition bill!
There is certainly a lot to think about before your child leaves for school. At Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd, we are here to make that job a little less stressful. Our knowledgeable team of attorneys can provide you with all the essential documents you need, so you can be confident they will be protected financially and medically. Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to learn more.
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