Packing for College: Three Legal Documents That Every Young Adult Needs

Aug 07, 2015

Sending a child off to college is a stressful time. You have the personal items covered (toothbrush, shower slippers, phone charger, laptop, bed sheets, etc)….these are just some of the important things you are sending your child off to school with this fall. But, what about some essential legal documents that you have probably not considered?

If your child has reached the age of 18, you are no longer responsible for him. That may be great news for some parents, but that also means you cannot make decisions for your 18 year old anymore, whether that is medical or financial.

Top 3 Legal Documents

This is why every 18 year old should have these 3 documents before they venture out on their own.

  1. Financial Power of Attorney
  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  3. Healthcare Authorization.

Without these documents, a parent has no authority to make health care decisions or manage money for their child. This is troubling for some who are paying the tuition, have their children on their health insurance plans and continue to claim them as dependents on their tax returns.

If your child is in an accident and becomes disabled, even temporarily, you may need court approval to act on his or her behalf. This can be a costly and lengthy process. This risk is real. Young adults between 18 and 25 years old are hospitalized with nonlethal injuries each year.

But it doesn’t take something nearly that drastic for parents to need to act on a child’s behalf. If your child is in the hospital, doctors will refuse to discuss his or her condition with you without the proper healthcare documents.

These power of attorney documents can be effective upon your child’s incapacity or immediately. It will give you access to their medical and financial information immediately. Your rights will depend on how much your child will allow on these documents. It is important to note that your child must give you this power. If you have a strained relationship, your child may decide to give this power to another adult in their lives. Also important is that your child still maintains their independence and power even though they have also given you the power to act for them.

For example, if your child wants to give power to have access to his or her finances but not be able to access his grades, he can specifically restrict that right in the power of attorney documents. This document can be useful in a variety of situations. For example if your child is studying abroad you need to contact the local embassy or wire money from a child’s bank account, sign a lease in your child’s name, etc.

Plan Ahead with These Documents

Have a discussion with your child and make sure you send them off to college this fall with these 3 most important items that will save you thousands of dollars down the line. Call our office to get started!

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