Turning 18 is an exciting for most young adults. Many are packing for college or looking to move out of their parent’s home. During all these changes, the Wall Street Journal, in an article titled, “Two Documents Every 18 Year Old Should Sign” recommends that you take the time to have your young adult child sign a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.
While this may seem unnecessary, most state laws require some sort of power of attorney in order for parents to make health care or financial decisions on behalf of their child even if they are still paying tuition or rent. With the risk of accidents, it is important to have a power of attorney in place.
Many colleges and universities refuse to discuss student medical information with a parent. For example, if a student becomes ill and ends up in the college medical clinic, medical information may be withheld from parents. This can be avoided by a health care proxy or health care power of attorney. While the document is set up so that medical decisions can be made on one’s behalf in case they become incapacitated, it can also give access to medical records.
Similarly, a durable power of attorney allows a parent to make financial decisions for a child if that should become necessary. For example, if a child travels overseas to study abroad, a durable power of attorney can help make it possible to wire money into a bank account in case of an emergency. Also, a durable power of attorney can allow parents to sign a lease if a child is not available to sign.
The last thing most young adults want to bother with is a financial or health care power of attorney. However, the risk of not having these documents is such that it is critical that young adults see an elder law attorney to ensure they are protected.