As our children go off to college or move away from home to begin their new career, there is a list of preparations to complete before they start their journey. We want to make sure they’re off to a great start, but many fail to discuss the importance of having a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy in place should the need arise.
Why a Power of Attorney is needed
Once our children turn 18 according to the law, they are adults. As parents, we can no longer make decisions or reply to inquiries on his or her behalf. Even if we are paying their tuition and still have them under our health insurance plans. This also includes financial, legal and medical matters. By establishing the necessary document for their health care and financial needs, the adult child can choose to appoint their parent’s or another trusted adult the legal authority to act on their behalf should they become disabled. Otherwise, court approval may need to be obtained to act on their behalf.
It can be a tough time for both parties when children are leaving the nest. No one wants to think of all the worst-case scenarios, but unforeseen accidents happen. Being prepared for the unexpected can help alleviate some of the stress, should a situation arise.
Many situations can be simple ones, like renewing a passport or a car registration; being out of the state make these tasks more difficult. Having a power of attorney in place will give their trusted appointee the ability to follow through for them. Most importantly, having a power of attorney allows you to make a medical decision for your child in the event of an emergency.
Laws for power of attorney vary from state to state; be sure to research and discuss with your attorney the best course of action for your individual needs.
Once you have the documents, safekeeping of these records needs addressing. Keep in mind they may be required on short notice for medical emergencies. You should have at least one original document stored safely in your home, and consider having your attorney keep another copy for you. You can also save the record in a secure cloud-based file; this will make it easy to access if you are out of town.