Estate planning is often thought of as something you don't need to worry about until you have a spouse and children of your own, but a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy are essential estate planning documents for students going off to college this fall.
Legally, your child is an adult once he or she blows out eighteen candles on a birthday cake. This means that you have no authority to make health care decisions or manage money for your child, even if you’re paying college tuition, providing health insurance, and claiming the child as a dependent on your tax return. If your child were to leave for college and become disabled, even temporarily, you’d need court approval to act on his or her behalf unless you’d already asked him or her to sign a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.
Your college student may feel young and invincible, but it’s quite possible that he or she would need your assistance in the event of an emergency. Accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults in the United States and over a quarter million people ages 18 to 25 are hospitalized with non-lethal injuries each year. College students are also uniquely vulnerable to meningococcal meningitis and other diseases that thrive when people live in close quarters.
A health care proxy gives you access to medical records as well as the authority to make health care decisions if your student becomes unable to participate in his or her own treatment. Power of attorney offers more far-reaching privileges, including the ability for a parent to inquire about a student’s grades at school or to sign a legal document such as a lease on the student’s behalf if he or she were unavailable. Aside from use in an emergency situation, power of attorney often comes in handy when your student is traveling overseas to study and needs your assistance to deal with matters at home.
A skilled estate planning attorney can prepare a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy for your college student for a nominal charge. Compared to the cost of college textbooks and outfitting a dorm room with everything your student needs, this small expense is an investment that brings invaluable peace of mind.
How Can We Help?
If you would like more information about how to set up a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy for your college student, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our Pasadena family law firm will ensure that your family's interests are protected no matter what the future holds.